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'Screen pregnant women': Centre issues advisory as Zika virus cases rise in Maharashtra

Health facilities and hospitals are mandated to appoint a nodal officer responsible for ensuring their premises are free of Aedes mosquitoes, the primary vectors of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.

Maintain constant vigil, screen pregnant women': Centre issues advisory as Zika virus cases rise in Maharashtra AJR
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First Published Jul 3, 2024, 6:09 PM IST

The central government on Wednesday (July 3) issued a comprehensive advisory to all states in response to the increasing number of Zika virus cases in Maharashtra. States have been instructed to maintain heightened vigilance, with a particular focus on screening pregnant women and monitoring fetal development in those testing positive for the virus.

Health facilities and hospitals are mandated to appoint a nodal officer responsible for ensuring their premises are free of Aedes mosquitoes, the primary vectors of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.

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"States are urged to instruct the health facilities in the affected areas to screen the pregnant women for Zika virus infection, monitor the growth of the fetus of expecting mothers who have tested positive for Zika," the advisory said. This measure is crucial as Zika infection in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a condition characterised by significantly smaller head size due to abnormal brain development in the fetus.

Further, the advisory stressed the need for strengthening entomological surveillance and intensifying vector control activities. States are advised to target residential areas, workplaces, schools, construction sites, institutions, and health facilities to control the spread of the virus.

To mitigate public panic, states are also urged to promote awareness about Zika virus through precautionary messages on social media and other platforms. Moreover, states must promptly report any detected cases to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the National Center for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC).

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Zika, an Aedes mosquito-borne viral disease, is generally non-fatal but poses significant risks to pregnant women due to its association with microcephaly in newborns. India's first reported Zika case occurred in Gujarat in 2016, and since then, various states have reported cases. Recently, a 55-year-old woman in Pune tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of cases in the city to seven. This follows the detection of six cases on July 1, including two pregnant women.

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