Female Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species of mosquito primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus disease
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species of mosquito primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus disease | Commons
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The Zika infection cases in Madhya Pradesh come close on the heels of an outbreak in neighbouring Rajasthan.

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh has reported 127 Zika cases in the first 15 days of November, days after more than 100 cases were reportedly discovered and treated in neighbouring Rajasthan.

According to the Madhya Pradesh directorate of health services, the cases have been limited to six regions – Vidisha (around 50 cases), Bhopal (around 40), Sehore (around 30), and two each in Hoshangabad, Raisen and Sagar. The patients belong to all age groups, and include pregnant women and children.

Transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito, the virus causes fever, conjunctivitis, skin rashes, and muscle and joint pain in patients. It isn’t fatal on its own, but has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a trigger for the Guillain-Barré syndrome and microcephaly.

According to the WHO, the Guillain-Barré syndrome is “a rare condition in which a person’s immune system attacks his or her nerves”. It says severe cases are rare, but might result in paralysis or death.

Also read: Government says Zika not yet an ‘outbreak’, deploys 258 teams to contain the spread 

Microcephaly, meanwhile, is a birth defect where the child’s head is smaller than expected for their age, which is often known to hamper brain function, though some children face no problem at all. A Zika infection in pregnant women has been found to put their children at risk of developing microcephaly.

Talking to ThePrint, the director of the state directorate of health services, Dr V.N. Chouhan, dismissed reports that two young people had died in the state of Zika infection.

“The two deaths reported… can’t be attributed to the virus as the [patients] were suffering from other diseases as well,” Chouhan added.

On disease control

Dr Chouhan said the first case of Zika virus in Madhya Pradesh was observed around 25 October, but was only brought to the notice of state health officials by 30 October. Since then, the state government has been trying to check the spread of the virus, he added.

There are four teams at work trying to contain the infection through multiple means: Surveillance, supervisory, medical, and entomology. All the four teams are working in coordination to keep a record of all the patients and possible cases, collect samples, eradicate mosquito-breeding grounds, and study the aedes aegypti mosquito to better contain it.

The samples collected by the teams are sent for testing to AIIMS Bhopal, and daily reports submitted to the chief minister’s office.

Dr Chouhan said their efforts were yielding positive results. “Where, earlier, we got 127 positive samples of the virus from a total 300 samples, now the number has reduced to three positive cases in a sample of 32,” he added.

Also read: 98% of India’s children breathing in toxic air, not just outside but also at home: WHO

This is the first occurrence of the Zika virus in MP. The first Zika infection in India was reported from Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu last year.

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