India gears up to fight ‘Zika’

New Delhi: As the World Health Organization on Monday sounded alert and declared Zika outbreak as a ‘global health emergency’, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare too issued a set of stringent guidelines to deal with a potential Zika outbreak in the country.

Central health minister JP Nadda released the guidelines on India’s plan of action after a high-level meeting on January 29.

The health ministry has advised state and district level units to look for clustering of cases of microcephaly among newborns and reporting of Gullian Barre Syndrome.

Designating National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi as the nodal agency for outbreak investigation, the ministry said that Rapid Action Teams, comprising of an epidemiologist, a microbiologist, a pediatrician and a entomologist, would be constituted for surveillance at central and state levels, and the teams would travel at short notice to investigate suspected outbreak.

As a part of its action plan, all international airports and ports will have billboards displaying information on Zika virus outbreak. The airports will also have special quarantine facilities to isolate any potential cases.

Even as NCDC, Delhi and National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune have been roped in for lab diagnosis, ten more labs will be strengthened by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to support NCDC and NIV.

The ministry has also placed special emphasis on Kerala and Tamil Nadu as the weather conditions there would make these states conducive to a potential outbreak.

Meanwhile, a sexually transmitted case of Zika virus has been confirmed in Texas, US.

According to reports, a person in Texas has been infected with Zika virus after having sex with a person who returned South America. The local health officials did not release any details citing privacy issues.

News24 Bureau