Zika updates

Contributed by Dr Ashwini Tayade, Dr Veeren Ganta

Over 280 cases of Zika virus infection, including two deaths, were reported from three states in India from September to November, Minister of State for Health Anupriya Patel informed the Rajya Sabha. Total 159 cases of the infection were reported from Jaipur in Rajasthan. Rajasthan recorded its 1st case of Zika virus infection after a woman tested positive in Jaipur on Sat 22 Sep 2018.

Madhya Pradesh witnessed 159 cases with Bhopal reporting 54, Vidisha 50, Hoshangabad 2, Sehore 21, Sagar 2 and Raisen 1. One confirmed case of Zika virus was reported from Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

A new Zika virus Travel Alert has been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for certain areas of India. The CDC said on [Thu 13 Dec 2018] that women who are pregnant should not travel to areas with risk of Zika.

A list of government approved testing centers for Zika virus is available at https://ncdc.gov.in/showfile.php?lid=298.

Meanwhile, researchers have assessed the possible route of spread of the current Zika epidemic within India and beyond by ranking the destination cities based on their arriving volume of travellers on commercial flights from Rajasthan for November, December, and January using data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for the year 2017. Pubmed Link - J Travel Med. 2018 Nov 22. The authors have suggested a greater risk of domestic spread from Jaipur within India in upcoming months but relatively lower potential for international exportation and spread. Notably, the city of Chennai may be especially vulnerable given relatively high connectivity to Rajasthan, a large urban population (> 7 million), and conditions conducive to year-round transmission of Zika virus via Ae. aegypti.

Another study by doctors at JIPMER, Puducherry published in the Neurology India journal in September, 2018 has gained significance as the authors have incidentally found IgM antibodies to Zika virus in 14 of the 90 GBS patients studied (15.5%). This may suggest that Zika has already spread down south in India. Also, reports from Pacific islands, South America, and Puerto Rico have shown an association of GBS with Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in the past but there have been no reports of ZIKV and GBS from India. Pubmed Link - Neurol India. 2018 Sep- Oct;66(5):1324-1331.