Zika Virus is on the prowl in India. NTAGI Chief Dr. NK Arora, who heads the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI), stated on Tuesday that India needs to be prepared to combat the Zika virus in the event of a “outbreak.”
Dr. Arora’s statement follows after a report that a 5-year-old girl from Karnataka has tested positive for the Zika virus.
“Zika virus is something which is something like a priority virus for which both preventive measures have to be taken. There are efforts now to develop a Zika vaccine in this country and we are hopeful we will be among the first few countries where the vaccine will be available.” Says Dr. Arora.
“We should be ready in any case of an outbreak or difficulty because if pregnant women get infected, the foetus can be affected also,” NTAGI Chief added.
On Tuesday, a five-year-old girl from Karnataka was confirmed to be infected with the Zika virus on Monday (Dec 12), news agency PTI reported.
Zika Virus – India is monitoring situation closely
“This is the first case in the state and the government is monitoring the situation very carefully. Our department is well prepared to handle it, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar, commented.
“Zika virus is something which is something like a priority virus for which both preventive measures have to be taken. There are efforts now to develop a Zika vaccine in this country and we are hopeful we will be among the first few countries where the vaccine will be available,” said Arora.
Previously, A 67-year-old man was found infected with the Zika virus in the Bavdhan area of Pune in early December. The man, who was a resident of Nashik had come to Pune on November 6. On November 16, he came to Jahangir Hospital with fever, cough, joint pain and fatigue and was diagnosed with Zika in a private laboratory on November 18, the health department had earlier informed.
Does India possess the capability to develop a vaccine to fight Zika Virus?
Bharat Biotech had said in 2016 that it had achieved a breakthrough in developing the world’s first promising candidate for Zika virus in Zikavac. “We believe we have an early-mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for a global patent for Zika vaccine candidates,” the company had then said.
It had two candidate vaccines under development then – one of them an inactivated vaccine that had reached preclinical testing in animals.
The company has now again started actively working on its Zika vaccine – BBV121. “BBV121 (zika vaccine) is under active product development, and phase 2 human clinical trials will follow,” Bharat Biotech stated.
Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has said its Zika virus vaccine is set to enter phase two human clinical trials soon. If successful, there will be a more guaranteed way to staying protected from Zika. Till then, eliminating mosquitoes and reducing exposure to them is the best bet.
Zika virus (ZIKV) disease (ZVD) is considered to be one of the significant public health diseases of concern post-2016 outbreak in Brazil.
Caused by a virus transmitted primarily by the Aedes mosquito, which bites during the day, symptoms of this disease include mild fever, rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, or a headache.
A mosquito-borne flavivirus had been reported to be associated with the increased incidence of microcephaly, congenital Zika syndrome, and Guillain-Barre syndrome.
According to WHO, rashes, fever, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headaches are common symptoms of the disease. The symptoms usually last for 2-7 days
Since its discovery in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, several outbreaks of ZVD have been reported from Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.