Lucknow: An outbreak of mosquito-borne Zika virus has been detected in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, with 89 people testing positive. Seventeen of them are children and one a pregnant woman. Those hit can get severe symptoms, including a rare neurological disorder.
The first Zika case in the industrial city was detected on October 23 and the number of cases has increased over the last week. One case has been reported from Kannauj, 90 km from Kanpur. There is concern about a possible surge in numbers.
The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which breed in stagnant water and are also the carriers of Dengue and Chikungunya.
Around 80 per cent of people infected by the virus do not show any symptoms. Some get fever or bodyache. But in severe cases, the virus can cause birth defects and a disease where the immune system attacks the body’s nerves.
The Kanpur administration said mass testing is being organised in localities where the Zika cases have been detected.
“The health department has formed several teams to contain the spread,” Dr Nepal Singh, Chief Medical Officer of Kanpur was quoted as saying by news agency Reuters. “There is one woman who is pregnant and we are paying special attention to her,” he added.
“All positive cases are being visited by health department teams at their homes and their vitals are being monitored on a daily basis,” said Vishakh G, the District Magistrate of Kanpur.
“A Zika control room has also been put in place, which is interacting with the patients daily. We appeal to everyone not to have stagnant water in their homes and to use mosquito nets,” he added.
“We are getting fogging done in the area. This health team has also been visiting for the past two days,” said Wing Commander RK Shukla, whose tenant, a corporal of the Indian Air Force, has been infected by the virus.
The Zika outbreak is the first disease to hit a large city of the state. Less than two months ago, a dengue and viral fever outbreak had hit Firozabad and claimed multiple lives, mostly of children.
First discovered in 1947, the Zika virus had reached epidemic proportions in Brazil in 2015, when thousands of babies were born with microcephaly, a disorder that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.