India World

India: Kerala state reports its first Zika virus infection

The southern state of Kerala in India declared an alert after reporting the state’s first Zika virus case.

State health minister Veena George confirmed one case and said there were 13 other suspected infections.

India reported a Zika outbreak in the western state of Gujarat in 2016-2017.

The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to shrunken brains in children and a rare auto-immune disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Although the virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes, it can also be sexually transmitted.

The first patient of the virus was identified as a 24-year-old pregnant woman from a town bordering the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.

She was admitted in the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram on 28 June with fever, headache and rashes. She delivered a baby on Wednesday.

“Her condition is stable. The delivery was normal. She has no travel history outside the state,” Ms George said.

“Her mother also had similar symptoms a week back. After finding out that it was the Zika virus from preliminary investigations, we took necessary steps.”

Ms George said samples of the 13 suspected cases had been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation and surveillance teams were sent to areas from where cases were reported.

The Zika cases comes at a time while the state is continuing to battle a second wave of Covid-19 infections with the test positivity rate remaining over 10% for the past seven days.

Zika virus was first isolated from monkeys living in the Zika jungle of Uganda in 1947. It was only formally described as a distinct virus in 1952.

But the researchers discovered that “significant numbers” of people in India had been exposed to the virus since a total of 33 of the 196 tested for the new disease had immunity.

“It therefore seems certain that Zika virus attacks human beings in India,” they concluded in a paper published in 1953.

In 2016 and 2017, the western state of Gujarat reported cases of the Zika virus in the city of Ahmedabad.