Kerala: Seven more test positive for Zika virus in Kannur district
The health department has increased surveillance and launched a strong mosquito eradication campaign.
Seven more persons from Thalassery tested positive for Zika virus on Sunday, 5 November. With this, the total number of cases in the district has gone up to eight as the first person tested positive on Saturday. All of them are staff of the local courts in Kannur district’s Thalassery district court complex.
With the fresh cases, the health department has issued high vigil and launched an intensive drive to eradicate mosquitoes in the region. The district medical officer Dr MP Jeeja said the test result of the blood sample of an infected person confirmed the presence of the mosquito-borne viral infection.
The teams conducted check-ups and collected details of affected persons. Blood and fluid samples of 23 persons were sent to NIV Alappuzha. “Zika virus infection was confirmed in one of the ten samples tested so far. The remaining results have not been released,” said the DMO.
“Since the symptoms are similar in all affected persons, we presume they all have Zika. The positive results will be based on the duration of the illness. We will conduct more tests in the coming days,” she said.
State Health Minister Veena George said the virus was spread by the Aedes mosquitoes and it also causes dengue and Chikungunya. It affects pregnant women and can cause birth defects such as microcephaly in the foetus, said the health department. It is a defect where baby's head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age.
The panic was set off after more than 60 persons — including judicial officers, court staff and advocates — sought medical assistance over the past week for discomfort, tiredness, itching, body pain, headache and fever. Based on the direction of the district judge, a medical camp was held at the court. With similar symptoms reported, three courts functioning within the complex had to be closed down for two days.
The district administration intensified preventive steps by monitoring pregnant women in the area and issuing alerts and guidelines to all health institutions, including private hospitals, the release said.
The first infection was reported on 30 October and after that a medical camp was organised in the area on 1 November during which 24 samples were collected and sent for testing, it said.
According to the World Health Organisation, the incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is estimated to be 3–14 days. The majority of people infected with Zika virus do not develop symptoms. Symptoms are generally mild including fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache, and usually last for 2–7 days.
Currently, no vaccine is available for the prevention or treatment of Zika virus infection. So, protection against mosquito bites during the day and early evening is a key measure to prevent Zika virus infection.