EDITORIAL 18/10/2018

Another outbreak: on Rajasthan Zika cases

 

A proper awareness campaign is vital to contain the Zika outbreak in Jaipur

With 80 laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika virus already in Jaipur, including 22 pregnant women, the latest outbreak(प्रकोप) is India’s most severe(गंभीर/ज़ालिम/कड़क) so far. In January 2017, three confirmed cases of Zika were reported from Ahmedabad, including a pregnant woman, and in July the same year a single case was reported from Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district. Unlike(असमान/प्रतिकूल) in the case of the Ahmedabad outbreak that was kept under wraps(ओढ़ना/लपेटना) by the Health Ministry (even the World Health Organization was informed only in May), there has been more transparency in the last two instances(उदाहरण/अवस्था). About 4.5 lakh people at the outbreak site in Rajasthan have been brought under surveillance(निगरानी). While steps to halt mosquito breeding have been initiated, it is to be noted that controlling the breeding(प्रजनन/उच्चवंश) of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, is very challenging. Controlling the spread becomes even harder as the mosquito is widely prevalent(प्रचलित/व्याप्त) in India, and the infection remains asymptomatic in about 80% of cases, allowing the virus to silently spread from one person to another. It can also spread from a pregnant mother to the foetus(गर्भ/भ्रूण). Even when the infection manifests(उजागर/व्याक्त करना) itself, the symptoms are very mild and non-specific, making it difficult to correctly and easily diagnose it. A study published in the journal Neurology(तंत्रिका विज्ञान ) India found 14 of 90 patients with the Guillain–Barré syndrome (a neurological complication seen in Zika-infected adults) in the Puducherry-based Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research tested positive for Zika virus antibodies. Four of the 14 patients also tested positive for an anti-dengue antibody. There is a remote possibility that the virus is circulating in some parts of India and could cause an epidemic(महामारी/संक्रामक रोग के समान) at some point.

It is not clear if the first person (index case) or others who had contracted the infection had travelled to any country where there is a Zika infection risk. The absence of travel history outside India in the recent past by any of the infected individuals indicates the virus is prevalent(प्रचलित/व्याप्त) in the mosquito population. Spread through sex, without multiple instances of infection by mosquitoes is unlikely, given the spurt in the number of cases within a narrow time window in a small community. Since Zika infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, particularly microcephaly (small size of the head), all the 22 pregnant women infected must be monitored. Also, as there is no cure for microcephaly at birth, there should be campaigns to educate people living in the outbreak area to avoid sex, particularly with the intent of getting pregnant, till the outbreak is under control. The long winter ahead in north India and the imminent(घटित होने वाला/आसन्न) onset(शुरुआत/आक्रमण) of the northeast monsoon in the eastern coast of India is conducive(सहायक/उपकारी/हितकर) for the mosquito to multiply and spread. This calls for a high level of alert.

 

Important Vocab

1.Severe(गंभीर/ज़ालिम/कड़क)

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2.Wrap(ओढ़ना/लपेटना)

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3.Outbreak(प्रकोप)

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4.Manifest(उजागर/व्याक्त करना)

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5.Epidemic(महामारी/संक्रामक रोग के समान) 

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