A person points at an image of Aedes Aegypti mosquito, carrier of the Zika virus, on a laptop screen, in Santiago, capital of Chile, on April 18, 2016. (Photo: Xinhua)
NEW DELHI, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Indian health officials Tuesday said 29 cases have tested positive for Zika virus in its western state of Rajasthan during the ongoing surveillance exercise.
"So far, there are a total of 29 people who have been tested positive for Zika virus," Veenu Gupta, one of the senior health officials in Rajasthan, said.
According to Gupta, 150 to 200 teams were conducting a surveillance exercise to detect the cases.
"The teams have surveyed 26,000 houses and all cases of fever have been listed," Gupta said. "Wherever there is a need to collect samples our people are collecting that on a large scale."
Indian health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda said government surveillance mechanism was "robust" and assured no case would go unreported.
"I want to assure people of India that everything is under control and there is no need to panic," Nadda said. "It is our continuous surveillance process going on and wherever we will come across such cases, we will adhere to our protocol to wipe it."
Nadda said a report on Zika virus obtained from Rajasthan has also been sent to the prime minister's office.
According to Nadda, the health ministry was continuously monitoring the ongoing situation in Rajasthan.
The present outbreak of Zika virus in Jaipur was detected through the Indian Council of Medical Research surveillance system.
Meanwhile, a seven-member high-level team from New Delhi was deputed to Jaipur following detection of the first case to assist the local government in control and containment measures. Officials said a control room has been activated at the National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi to undertake regular monitoring of the situation.
Reports said health ministry has also issued an alert to eastern state of Bihar as one of affected in Jaipur hailed from Bihar and visited his home in Siwan district recently.
Meanwhile, the health officials in Bihar have issued advisories to all its 38 districts to keep a close watch on people showing symptoms similar to Zika virus infection.
"The Siwan resident, who studies in Jaipur, visited home between August 28 and September 12 to appear for an exam," a local media report said. "His family members have been put under surveillance."
In India, the first outbreak of Zika virus was reported in Ahmedabad (Gujarat) in 2017 and later on from Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu. Officials said both outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management.
Zika virus disease ceases to be a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) according to WHO and can be handled as per existing protocol.
Zika virus infection has been linked to severe birth defects in almost 30 countries. These include microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development.
Although the virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes, it can also be sexually transmitted.
Zika was first identified in 1947. The virus was not considered a major health threat until a major outbreak in Brazil in 2015 revealed that it can lead to severe birth defects when pregnant women are infected.
The WHO says although Zika causes only mild symptoms in most people, it sometimes causes complications including microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome.