Analysis of Zika virus strains collected from Jaipur, where there is an outbreak of the disease, has suggested that they do not have the known mutations linked to fetal microcephaly, a serious birth defect in newborns delivered by infected mothers, according to the Health Ministry.
The ICMR-NIV, Pune has sequenced 5 Zika virus strains collected at different time points of the Jaipur outbreak.
"Advanced molecular studies of Zika virus strains, carried out through Next Generation Sequencing suggest that the known mutations linked to fetal microcephaly and high transmissibility of Zika virus in Aedes mosquitoes are not present in the current Zika virus strain that has affected Rajasthan," the ministry said Saturday.
However, the government has maintained the high vigil of the possibility of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to Zika virus as the strain may mutate in future or some other unknown/host factors may play a role in microcephaly /other birth defects, the statement said.
The Health Ministry said that around 2,000 samples were tested out of which 159 cases have been confirmed. Adequate numbers of testing kits have been provided to the Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories.
The Rajasthan government has been supplied with all the material prepared to create awareness about Zika virus disease and its prevention strategies and all pregnant mothers in the area are being monitored.
Extensive surveillance and vector control measures are being taken up in the area as per protocol by the state government.
Zika virus disease is an emerging disease currently being reported by 86 countries worldwide. Symptoms of Zika virus disease are similar to other viral infections such as dengue and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.
In India, the first outbreak was reported in Ahmedabad in January/February 2017 and the second outbreak in July 2017 from Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu. Both these outbreaks were successfully contained through intensive surveillance and vector management, the statement said.
The disease continues to be on disease surveillance radars of Union Health Ministry although it is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern vide WHO notification since 18th November 2016.
(With inputs from agencies.)