Zika virus:Health dept. issues alert to hospitals


With the frontline workers of local bodies and the Health Department continuing COVID-19 containment works, reports of Zika virus infection in Kerala have posed a difficult situation for Coimbatore.

Health Department officials said that Coimbatore district stepped up vigil though the two bordering districts namely Palakkad and Thrissur did not have cases of Zika virus. However, there was no panic situation in the district, said S. Senthil Kumar, Deputy Director of Health Services.

Workers of local bodies were playing the major role in mosquito source reduction activities. “Health and local body workers are largely engaged with COVID-19 activities. They have been instructed to carry out source reduction activities alongside,” he said.

The public also have a role in preventing mosquito breeding by not allowing clogging of fresh water on the premises of houses, offices, institutions, shops and other establishments, he said.

The Health Department has given alerts to all the private and government hospitals to identify people who come with symptoms of Zika virus infection that include mild fever, joint pain mainly in the hands or feet, red eyes, rashes, muscle pain, headache and fatigue.

“Hospitals have been asked to take special evaluation of fever in pregnant women as Zika infection can cause microcephaly to the baby,” said Dr. Senthil Kumar.

The district was seeing sporadic cases of dengue. Two cases of dengue were reported from Somanur and Sulur 20 days ago. Both patients were detected at early stage of infection and they recovered.

Collector G.S. Sameeran on Saturday evening held a meeting with senior officials to discuss ways to prevent Zika virus spread in Coimbatore.

In the virtual meeting he held with Commissioner of Municipal Administration, Coimbatore Corporation Commissioner, District Revenue Officer, Project Director, DRDA, Joint Director and Deputy Director of Department of Public Health it was decided to conduct random fever checks on people entering the district from Kerala, said sources.

The administration would hold special medical camps at the 14 entry points at the State border with Kerala as the number of Zika virus cases was high there. Likewise, the administration had asked the Department of Public Health to collect details of pregnant women reporting fever symptoms.

This was important because Zika virus had the potential to cause microcephaly, a defect where the head of an infant is smaller compared to body, the sources said. In addition to collecting details of pregnant women with fever, the Department officials should also collect details of those reporting fever.

As for the local bodies, the Collector asked them to intensify mosquito control measures by destroying mosquito breeding sources. They should carry out the same steps that they followed to control dengue spread, as the source of Zika virus and dengue was the same – Aedes aegypti mosquito, which bred on fresh water.

Therefore, it was important that discarded articles that could store rain water be destroyed.

The Collector asked the local body and Department officials to carry out the work on a war footing, including fogging to eradicate mosquitoes, the sources added.

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