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Zika cases rise to 29 in Rajasthan, Centre says no need to panic

New Delhi/Jaipur | The Health Ministry on Tuesday appealed to people not to panic and assured them that the Zika outbreak was under control after 29 people were tested positive for the disease in Rajasthan’s Jaipur.

Rajasthan’s Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Veenu Gupta told reporters in Jaipur that 29 people, including three pregnant women, have so far been tested positive for Zika virus in the city and efforts are on to contain the spread of the virus.

“Zika cases have been detected due to our strong surveillance systems. Our surveillance is very robust and all such cases get detected. We have standard protocols, and in collaboration with the WHO, we follow them to see whether it is an isolated case or a collective case.

“The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), National Centre for Disease Control and DGHS (Directorate General of Health Services) are monitoring the current situation continuously. I want to assure citizens of India that everything is under control and there is no need to panic,” Union Health Minister J P Nadda said.

Gupta said several Health Department teams conducted household surveys in the affected Shastri Nagar area. Authorities carried out fogging, besides taking up other measures for the vector control.

The state officials said blood samples of 450 people, including 168 pregnant women, were taken for test, and 29 of them were tested positive for Zika virus.

As a precautionary measure, the state health department has directed medical colleges and chief medical and health officers to take necessary steps by making micro plans as per the guidelines of the Union Health Ministry to curb Zika virus spread, Gupta said.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Monday sought a comprehensive report from the Health Ministry on the outbreak of Zika virus.

A seven-member high-level central team is in Jaipur to assist the state government in control and containment measures and a control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to undertake regular monitoring of the situation, according to the ministry.

As one of those affected in Jaipur hailed from Bihar and visited his Siwan home recently, the eastern state has issued advisories to all its 38 districts to keep a close watch on people showing symptoms similar to Zika virus infection.

The state government has been supplied with information, education and communication (IEC) material prepared to create awareness about Zika virus and its prevention strategies, the ministry said.

The number of monitoring team has been increased from 50 to 170 and a special isolation ward has been created at Hira Bagh Training Centre, according to a state government release.

Symptoms of mosquito-borne Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January and February 2017 and second outbreak in July, 2017 from Krishnagiri District in Tamil Nadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management, the ministry said.

The disease continues to be on surveillance radars of the Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under WHO notification since November 18, 2016.

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