Kolkata, India: Officials in India’s southern Kerala area have issued a nationwide alert following the confirmation of a Zika virus case, officials said Friday.
According to state health minister Veena George, a total of 13 suspected cases are being probed.
A pregnant 24-year-old woman was found to be sick with the mosquito-borne disease and was being treated at a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.
Pregnant women are especially vulnerable because they can pass the illness on to their babies, causing life-threatening disorders including Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare auto-immune disease.
Samples from the 13 suspected cases have been submitted to a facility in Pune for further investigation, according to the minister.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika is mostly transferred by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, although it can also be transmitted sexually.
In 1947, the virus was found in monkeys in Uganda’s Zika jungle, and it has since caused multiple epidemics around the world.
There are no vaccinations or antiviral medications available for prevention or treatment.
Fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, and muscle and joint discomfort are common symptoms, but fatalities are uncommon.
Officials said the sick mother suffered fever, headaches, and rashes before being brought to the hospital, where she delivered a baby safely on Wednesday.
Health teams have been dispatched to the region to keep an eye on any new cases.
In 2017 and 2018, India had Zika epidemics, with hundreds of cases reported in western Gujarat and Rajasthan, as well as central Madhya Pradesh, but this is the first infection in Kerala.
The state is currently dealing with an outbreak of Covid-19, with more than 13,000 illnesses reported on Friday, the most of any Indian state.