India’s Kerala state on alert after Zika virus detected
A statewide alert has been issued in India’s southern Kerala state after a case of the Zika virus was confirmed. 13 suspected cases are being investigated according to Health Minister Veena George. A 24-year-old pregnant woman was found to be infected with the disease and was undergoing treatment in a hospital in Thiruvananthapuram city. The 13 further cases had samples sent to a lab in Pune for further investigation.
Pregnant women are vulnerable to the disease and can transmit infection to their newborns which can cause birth defects or auto-immune diseases. Zika is primarily spread through the bite of a mosquito but can be sexually transmitted as well. No vaccines or anti-viral drugs are available to treat or prevent the illness, and WHO declared the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in 2016.