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18 more cases of Zika reported in Rajasthan

New Delhi: Rajasthan state government has deployed medical teams amid an emergency campaign to contain the spread of Zika virus.

At least 18 new cases of Zika were confirmed on Saturday, taking the total number of such cases to 50.

So far there have been no deaths due to the Zika virus outbreak, officials said.

However, 11 pregnant women were among those infected with the virus.

According to a statement issued by state Health Department, 18 more people in the state capital Jaipur tested positive for Zika virus.

“It is critical to contain mosquito breeding over the next week to ensure that the infection does not spread to create new epicentres,” the statement said.

The Health Department told Gulf News a mass awareness and prevention drive had begun in Jaipur.

Medical teams were deployed in Shastri Nagar area of Jaipur from where most cases of Zika infection were detected.

“As many as 185 medical teams are working to watch out for any symptoms with extra attention on pregnant women. As the incubation period of the virus is one week, more cases are expected over the next seven days before the results of the containment measures taken over the last seven days show results,” Rajasthan Health Department’s Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Veenu Gupta said.

On Saturday, the Health Department issued an advisory for pregnant women staying outside Shastri Nagar not to visit the area.

Department officials said they suspect the Zika outbreak was triggered by an infected tourist.

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“Apart from fogging and spraying to control mosquitoes, authorities have surveyed over 6,000 houses in Jaipur and have treated over 2,000 containers with a chemical called temephos,” the Health Department said in the statement.

The first Zika case had surfaced on September 22 in Rajasthan. Fogging and other anti-larvae activities were carried out since then to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The number of cases is expected to increase for another week, but there has been no exponential increase in cases, like it happened in Brazil in 2015. Containment efforts over the next week will determine how the outbreak shapes up,” Gupta added.

Since September 22, around 10,000 families in Shastri Nagar of Jaipur and neighbouring areas have been screened. The infected persons have been kept in an isolation ward at Jaipur’s SMS Hospital.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has sought a comprehensive report on Zika virus outbreak in Jaipur.

A control room was also set up at National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi to undertake regular monitoring of the situation.

In India, Zika was first reported in Gujarat in February, 2017, when three people tested positive, followed by one case in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu in July same year.

What is Zika virus?

Zika virus infection is a mosquito-borne illness like dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Its symptoms include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.

Zika virus disease has so far been reported from 86 countries across the world.

The virus puts the unborn children at risk of microcephaly, a birth defect in which the baby’s head is smaller than normal because of abnormal brain development.