NEW DELHI: India has initiated research on the impact of Zika virus on infected pregnant women in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where cases of virus were reported last year.
The APEX Indian Medical Research Council (ICMR) said on Monday that the study was being introduced in Rajasthan in the first week of April and in Bhopal by the end of April. ICMR has started a study to understand the pregnancy consequences of women infected with Zika and also Zika Congenital Syndrome (CZS) as well as other neurological malformations in their newborn babies. Made to facilitate clinical trials of Zika Phase II Bharat Biotech International Ltd vaccine, "said the officer.
According to ICMR, the strain of Zika virus that has been isolated from Rajasthan is compatible with Brazilian Zika stress associated with cases, and microceffal or CZS. In this regard, the ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune, has also initiated animal studies (on mice) to understand the potential of this virus to cause microceffal or CZS. Preliminary reports suggest that there is no known mutation associated with microceffal. However, the stress needs to be further characterized as there are a number of cases that can be attributed to rnicrocephaly or CZS, says the officer.
Between September and November 2018, India saw cases of Zika virus disease in Jaipur as well as Bhopal and the surrounding areas of Madhya Pradesh. Both cases were included through prompt public health interventions.
According to the ministry of family health and welfare, no new cases of Zika virus disease have been reported by the states since the end of November 2018. Also, there are currently no reported cases of Zika virus disease from any part of Country. And the continuation of human surveillance for Zika virus disease in India will continue, the government has said.
In December 2018, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, announced a travel health notice on Zika virus in India. The travel advisor showed that India has an ongoing case of Zika virus disease in Rajasthan and the neighboring US. Councilors further warned that pregnant women did not travel to areas with persistent Zika cases. Women planning pregnancy were also informed about travel.
Because, such a council could have had serious implications on travel and trade in India, Balram Bhargava, secretary, Department of Health Research, union health ministry and director general-ICMR wrote to CDC to withdraw back or modify the travel counselor by providing evidence of the case in India. The SDC corrected the council accordingly after India highlighted the issue.