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WHO Confirms Active Zika Transmission in India

MAY 26, 2017 | SARAH ANWAR
The World Health Organization (WHO) just released an official statement confirming active Zika virus transmission in India.
 
According to the release, laboratory testing using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) confirmed Zika virus infection in 3 patients from the Bapunagar area, Ahmedabad District, Gujarat.
 
The first case was identified in February 2016. The male, 64 years of age, presented with febrile illness, which he had been experiencing for 8 days. He tested negative for Dengue virus infection, and was then tested for Zika virus at B. J. Medical College in Ahmedabad (BJMC), which came back positive.
 
In November of the same year, a female, 34 years of age, gave birth to an infant who was found to be “clinically well.” However, the new mother came down with a “low grade fever” after delivery. She had no history of travel in the 3 months prior to delivery. Lab testing confirmed she was not infected with Dengue, but that she has Zika infection, which was confirmed by “RT-PCR testing and sequencing” at the National Institute of Virology in Pune.
 
The third case was identified in January of 2017. The individual, a 22-year-old female, was 37 weeks pregnant when she tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus.
 
According to the WHO risk assessment, this report “describes the first cases of Zika virus infections and provides evidence on the circulation of the virus in India.” Although WHO claims that Zika transmission in the country is currently at low levels, it is believed that “new cases may occur in the future,” as “risk of further spread of Zika virus to areas where the competent vectors, the Aedes mosquitoes, are present is significant.”
 
Therefore, WHO urges health officials to increase surveillance of complications associated with the virus, as well as increase efforts to “better characterize the intensity of the viral circulation and geographical spread” of Zika. In addition, WHO recommends performing vector-control efforts. There are currently no recommendations to limit travel to India.
 
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