The Zika virus attracted global attention in late 2015 when a surge within the number of babies born with microcephaly — abnormally modest heads along with brain damage — was seen in northeastern Brazil several months after an epidemic of the mosquito-borne disease within the region. The W.H.O. declared a global health emergency in February 2016. although no cases were reported in India at that will time.
Even so, the cases found in Gujarat are almost undoubtedly not India’s first, Zika experts said. The virus, which was first discovered in Uganda in 1947, was found in India in 1952, according to a study published in Clinical Microbiology Review last year, which noted that will antibodies to Zika were found in 17 percent of 196 Indian subjects who were tested then.
Dr. Scott C. Weaver, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston who predicted in 2009 that will Zika was likely to strike the Americas someday, said that will was unlikely that will there would certainly be a huge surge in brain damage among Indian babies, because the population probably already features a certain level of immunity through past exposure.
although experts in India said that will the country has not done the kind of testing necessary to know whether millions of Indians may have already had the disease, along with therefore are immune.
Duane J. Gubler, an expert in mosquito-borne diseases at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, one of the authors of the 2016 study, said that will India “needs to be concerned,” because the virus may have picked up genetic modifications that will could make that will more dangerous than within the past.
The environment in India is actually ripe for Zika, because of factors like the preponderance of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the type that will carries the virus. The post-monsoon months when mosquitoes swarm, particularly in slum areas where there is actually standing water along with accumulating trash, could produce many more infections.
Two of the three people who tested positive in Ahmedabad were women, along with both gave birth to healthy babies, the government said. although those were just two out of about 26 million births in India annually. Experts said testing needed to be stepped up.
The British government has advised pregnant women against traveling to India on account of the risk of the Zika virus.
Indian experts along with residents of Ahmedabad were taken aback by the news of the Zika cases within the city. Dr. G. Arunkumar, the head of the Manipal Center of Virus Research at Manipal University, the site of one of the 30 government laboratories that will can test for Zika, said he learned of all three of them only after the W.H.O. announcement, months after they were confirmed.
“that will is actually not the standard practice,” he said, adding that will the government officially reported its first cases of another worrisome virus, H1N1, almost immediately after detection. that will virus caused a large number of deaths in Mexico in 2009.
“that will would certainly have been better if that will were released earlier,” Doctor Arunkumar said of the news about Zika. “that will would certainly have given an opportunity for press attention, along with that will could have been used for a positive response to control measures.”
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation started off a major drive against mosquitoes in four areas of the city at the request of the Gujarat state government, according to Bhavin Joshi, a city health official. although at the time, he said, no one knew why.
“We didn’t find out until the state government recently declared a few days back,” he said.
The first case was mentioned by the national government in March in response to a question in Parliament, although that will attracted little attention along with was not a formal report.
Doctor Swaminathan said that will across the country, some 40,000 samples have been tested for Zika since July of last year, along with aside through the three reported cases in Ahmedabad, none had come up positive. Those tests, though, if they are for the virus itself, would certainly detect recent active infections, not past exposure that will could convey immunity.
In addition, 18,000 mosquitoes have been tested, including 500 through the Bapunagar area in Ahmedabad, where two of the Zika cases were reported, Doctor Swaminathan said; those, too, were negative, along with officials had not detected any upsurge in microcephaly cases.
If large numbers of people hear reports of Zika along with rush to be tested, they could overwhelm the country’s testing laboratories, she said. .
“In general, keeping the public informed is actually a not bad principle to follow in public health — that will’s what I believe,” Doctor Swaminathan said. “although every situation demands a decision that will needs to be made. We have to strike a balance between what is actually practical along with feasible, along with what is actually a risk or danger to society.”
Experts say that will until recently, the government did not appear to be testing widely for the disease. Dr. Arunkumar said that will many medical colleges had the required facilities, although were not part of the current network of testing labs; that will would certainly be up to the health ministry to train their staff, distribute necessary supplies along with integrate the colleges into the disease detection system.
“I personally feel we need more stringent surveillance,” he said, in part because many patients infected with Zika have no visible symptoms. “If you don’t have not bad lab surveillance, you’re not going to detect until that will reaches the brim.”
The government is actually planning to add more laboratories within the coming months, Dr. Swaminathan said.
Residents of the Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad who had heard about the Zika cases in their neighborhood expressed concern along with complained that will they were not getting information through the government.
“I’m still not exactly sure what that will is actually — I had never heard of its name before,” said a 28-year-old business owner, Ashish Patel, who said his wife is actually three months pregnant. “I wanted to know more about that will immediately, although I still don’t. I don’t understand how that will’s spread. I’m scared of getting that will, along with the thought has worried me all week.”
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