Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Zika threat: Pregnant women under watch

The News

  • With an increasing number of zika cases being detected in Rajasthan and Bihar, the Union health ministry has initiated extensive surveillance and vector control measures to combat the situation.


News Summary

  • The Prime Minister’s Office has sought a comprehensive report from the health ministry after 22 people tested positive for the virus in Rajasthan’s capital.
  • Bihar has issued advisories to all its district health authorities to actively monitor cases with any symptoms similar to zika after.
  • Unlike last year, when the virus was detected in infected patients, this time scientists have been able to detect it in mosquitoes in the affected area also. This means that the risk of spreading is higher.


Steps taken to contain the spread

  • The Centre has activated a control room at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to undertake regular monitoring of the situation.
  • Apart from the suspected cases, all pregnant women are being monitored through National Health Mission.
  • Also, all suspect cases in the defined area and mosquito samples from this area are being tested.
  • The state governments have been supplied with information, education and communication (IEC) material prepared to create awareness about Zika and its prevention strategies.


About Zika virus

  • Zika belongs to a group of viruses called the flaviviruses, which includes dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.
  • Zika virus infect and replicate inside the cells of several species, including humans, monkeys, and mosquitoes.
  • Currently, Zika is being reported by 86 countries worldwide.




  • The primary mode of Zika transmission is through mosquitoes in the genus Aedes which bite during the day.
  • When a mosquito sucks blood from a person infected with Zika, the virus infect the cells of the mosquito.
  • Mosquito’s infection develops in a period of about 1 and ½ weeks.
  • When it bites another human, the viral particles can be transmitted to the human, who may contract Zika.
  • Other modes of transmission include:
    • Pregnant woman who contracts Zika transmitting the virus to her growing fetus.
    • Sexual contact or through blood transfusions from a Zika-infected donor.



  • Symptoms of 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.
  • Pregnant women and their unborn fetuses are at higher risk for harmful effects from Zika. There is a link between Zika infection during pregnancy and a condition called microcephaly in newborns.
  • Microcephaly may involve neurological problems or developmental delays.
  • In some rare cases, it may be linked with Guillain-Barré syndrome which is an autoimmune condition that causes paralysis, which is usually temporary.


Zika in India

  • According to the World Health Organisation’s classification scheme on the prevalence of Zika, India is in category 2 – indicating ongoing transmission of the virus.
  • In India, the Zika virus was first found in Pune 65 years ago.
  • In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January/February 2017 and second outbreak in July, 2017 in Tamil Nadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
  • Though India has not witnessed a major outbreak but India is prone to the outbreak as it provides fertile climate for the aedes egypti mosquito to grow and multiply.

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