Citing a reported outbreak of Zika, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, has issued an alert and asked pregnant women not to travel to India, particularly Rajasthan.
“There is an unusual increase in the number of Zika cases in Rajasthan and surrounding states. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with risk of Zika,” the alert says.
“Many people infected with Zika virus only have mild symptoms or do not get sick. However, infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, travellers should take steps to prevent getting Zika during travel,” the alert further says.
According to the World Health Organisation, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations.
The alert comes when the Union health ministry has reported over 153 cases of Zika from Rajasthan in October and November, The Indian Express reported. Tourism will be adversely impacted in the state after the advisory, the report further said.
State health authorities, according to The Times of India, have claimed that Jaipur is safe and there is no scare of Zika.
Dr Ravi Prakash Mathur, additional director (rural health), health department was quoted as saying in the report that issuing such warning will unnecessarily create fear among people of the state and also among those coming from other countries to Rajasthan.
The first case in Rajasthan surfaced on 22 September. A control room was activated at the National Centre for Disease Control to monitor the situation, News18 reported and since then, the number of monitoring teams in Jaipur has increased from 50 to 170.
The Zika virus is primarily transmitted through by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Symptoms are generally mild and include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache.