Preventing, responding to Zika
On 15 May 2017, India notified first confirmed cases of Zika Virus Disease to the World Health Organization. Although Zika is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, WHO maintains that vigilance to Zika needs to remain high.
Reporting of Zika cases reflects the country’s efforts to implement key WHO recommendations related to surveillance as well as their commitment to the International Health Regulations, which requires all member countries to report public health events to WHO.
In view of the first confirmed Zika cases, India has further stepped up surveillance.
Ever since the suspected causal association between Zika virus and microcephaly and GBS was declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016, WHO has been supporting the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for enhancing Zika virus surveillance and scaling-up vector control measures among other activities.
Under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) monitoring for microcephaly has been established at 55 sentinel sites. No increase in number of cases/ clustering of microcephaly has been reported from these centers so far.
Cases of Zika in India are not unexpected, as all countries with Aedes mosquitoes are potentially at risk for local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission.
WHO urges all persons to take precautions, especially during the approaching monsoon season, to limit mosquito-human contact by wearing long sleeved, light colored clothing; using mosquito repellant; sleeping under bed nets; using doors and screens wherever possible; and limiting mosquito breeding in and around the home by disrupting standing water wherever it gathers. This will help prevent all vector-borne diseases such a zika, dengue, malaria and chikungunya.
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