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Airports may screen for Zika-affected

Published : Feb 2, 2016, 1:42 am IST
Updated : Feb 2, 2016, 1:42 am IST

With Zika virus fast spreading its wings, India has decided that all its international airports will soon have signages asking passengers coming from affected countries to report “fever-like” symptoms

With Zika virus fast spreading its wings, India has decided that all its international airports will soon have signages asking passengers coming from affected countries to report “fever-like” symptoms at the airport.

The Union health ministry which is in the process of issuing detailed guidelines to deal with the virus will also issue a “travel advisory” advising travellers (both women and men) to consider postponing the travel to affected countries.

“Since sexual transmission of the virus may also be possible, the travel advisory will be for both men and women,” sources disclosed.

For pregnant women, however, it will be advised that no matter in which trimester they are, they should talk to their doctors if they must travel to countries where Zika infections have been found, and if the trip is not essential, they should consider postponing it.

“Women who are trying to become pregnant are also at risk, and should discuss their travel plans and the risks of the Zika infection with their health care providers. The travellers will also be advised to strictly follow the routines that will prevent mosquito bites,” sources further said.

Union health minister J.P. Nadda assessed the preparedness with the experts on Monday and asked to brace up the laboratories for testing. Around 10 laboratories will be equipped to do testing. Significantly, it was also decided that Asha workers be sensitised and in case they come across any case, they should report at the existing “mother and child tracking system”.

With Southern states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu being major breeding grounds for aedes aegypti mosquito, responsible for Zika virus, the minister has asked for a major onslaught against the mosquitoes in these states. “It was decided to put efforts on controlling the vector from spread in a campaign mode. We will come up with detailed guidelines in the next two days,” Dr Jagdish Pradad, director-general of health services told this newspaper.

With Zika virus showing no signs of shrinking, the WHO director-general Margaret Chan will also convene an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

On May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.

Arrival of the virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi