Analysis of samples collected from many states last year also points to co-infection with dengue and chikungunya, study stresses the need for increased surveillance of vector-borne diseases
A BMC worker carries out fumigation in the city, on June 2, 2020. File pic
Zika virus which causes congenital abnormalities in the developing fetus and newborn has begun infecting people in several states, according to an analysis by the National Institute of Virology, Pune. Calling for surveillance of fever cases, since Covid cases are likely to go up in rains, the study also points to the worrying discovery of co-infection of Zika, dengue and chikungunya. NIV analysed 1,520 samples collected last year after Maharashtra reported a Zika case.
With the arrival of rains in most states, the threat of vector-borne diseases has gone up. Zika dengue and chikungunya spread through Aedes mosquitoes. Zika infection can result in fetal loss or stillbirth or premature delivery.
NIV carried out the genomic examination of samples—serum, plasma, whole blood and urine—taken from 1,475 patients in 2021 of which 67 patients were found to be infected with Zika. The Zika samples were from Maharashtra’s neighbours Gujarat and Telangana, and other states.
The study by NIV was carried out after a Zika case was reported in Maharashtra last year. Representation pic
There were 121 cases of dengue and 10 chikungunya infections in the samples. NIV also found co-infection of dengue-chikungunya, dengue-Zika, and dengue-chikungunya-zika were also observed. Two patients were infected with both Zika and dengue, while one patient had Zika, dengue and chikungunya, it said.
Dr Pragya Yadav, the author of the study, said. “Zika cases were symptomaticwith fever [84 per cent] and rash [78 per cent] as major presenting symptoms. Of them, four patients had respiratory distress, one presented with seizures, and one with suspected microcephaly at birth. The Asian Lineage of Zika and all four serotypes of dengue were found in circulation.”
Yadav added, “The study reveals that the transmission of Zika virus is already started in the community so there is a need to keep monitoring fever cases and more emphasis should be given on vector control programme. Though Maharashtra has reported only one case in the previous year there is a chance of transmission as migration is frequent.”
Currently, Zika surveillance is already in place across 78 virus research and diagnostic labs of the Indian Council of Medical Research in India. This study was coordinated by Dr Nivedita Gupta, head of virology at ICMR. Dr Ishwar Gilada, infectious diseases expert and secretary-general organized medicine, academic guild (OMAG), said “Along with Covid, there is a need to look at other infectious diseases also. As per the apex body study, the health department should strengthen its surveillance and there is a constant need to test samples of vector-borne diseases to know the status of diseases in society.”
Dr Pragya Yadav, study author
‘The study reveals that the transmission of Zika virus is already started in the community so there is a
need to keep monitoring fever cases... Though Maharashtra has reported only one case in the previous year, there is a chance of transmission as migration is frequent’
Dr Ishwar Gilada, infectious diseases expert
‘Along with Covid, there is a need to look at other infectious diseases also. As per the apex body study, the health department should strengthen its surveillance and there is a constant need to test samples of vector-borne diseases…’
Total no. of Zika infection detected by NIV