Second virus threat emerges in Covid-ridden nation after 14 new cases

Health authorities in India have detected 14 new cases of the Zika virus, the first infection being a 23-year-old mother.

Local authorities were put on alert after the virus was detected in India's southern state of Kerala.

"Zika virus disease is reported in Kerala for the first time. The first case was that of a pregnant woman who is 23 years old," Kerala's Health Minister Veena George said.

"The mother delivered a baby and both the mother and baby are keeping well."

Medical staff wearing full protective suits stand at the entrance to the isolated ward of the Ernakulam Government Medical College in Kochi, Kerala, India. Source: EPA via AAP
Covid hospital staff in PPE at the isolated ward of the Ernakulam Government Medical College in Kochi, Kerala, India. Source: EPA via AAP

The National Institute of Virology confirmed a further 13 cases out of the 19 samples suspected to contain the virus that were sent to them, Ms George added.

"Most of them are health workers and all the cases have been reported from the Thiruvananthapuram district (capital)."

A series of high-level meeting resulted in authorities issuing a health alert and the government is closely monitoring the health of pregnant women.

The Zika outbreak in India was first detected in the city of Ahmedabad in the western Gujarat province in January 2017, data provided by the Indian government shows.

A stock image of a mosquito.
Several cases of Zika virus have been detected in India. Source: AP

Another outbreak was reported in July 2017 in the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu in the south.

Authorities confirmed another 29 Zika cases in Jaipur, capital of the northwestern Rajasthan province in 2018.

What is the Zika virus and how is it spread?

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same insect that carries Chikungunya and dengue fever, and can also spread by sex among humans.

The illness can cause fever, reddened eyes, skin rashes and, less often, muscular and joint pain.

Zika is not generally a fatal disease but women who become sick in their first trimester of pregnancy have been found to give birth to babies with abnormally small skulls, a condition known as microcephaly.

While Covid cases in India has gone down since the surge propelled by the Delta variant, more than 40,000 cases are being recorded each day.

In May this year, there were days where India reported more than 400,000 cases, according to the Times of India, 42,766 cases were reported on July 10.

With AAP

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