New Delhi, Jul 3: In view of some cases of Zika virus reported from parts of Maharashtra, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday issued an advisory to all states highlighting the need for maintaining a constant vigil over the situation in the country.

States have been urged to focus on screening pregnant women for Zika virus and monitor the growth of foetus of expecting mothers who tested positive for the infection.

Besides the advisory by Director General of Health Services Dr Atul Goel, the ministry also asked health facilities to identify a nodal officer to monitor and act to keep the premises free of Aedes mosquito infestation.

Zika is an Aedes mosquito-borne viral disease like dengue and chikungunya. Though non-fatal, Zika is associated with microcephaly (a condition where the head is much smaller than expected) in babies born to affected pregnant women which makes it a cause of major concern.

As Zika is associated with microcephaly and neurological consequences in the foetus of the affected pregnant women, states have been advised to alert the clinicians for close monitoring, the advisory stated.

States are urged to instruct the health facilities in the affected areas or those catering to cases from affected areas to screen pregnant women for Zika, monitor the growth of the fetus of expecting mothers who have tested positive for the infection and act as per Central government guidelines.

The advisory has emphasised on the importance of strengthening entomological surveillance and intensifying vector control activities in residential areas, workplaces, schools, construction sites, institutions and health facilities.

The states have been urged to promote awareness through precautionary IEC messages in social media and other platforms to reduce panic among the community as Zika is like any other viral infection with most cases being asymptomatic and mild.

The Health Ministry said that though Zika is reported to be associated with microcephaly, no report of any such Zika-associated microcephaly has been reported in the country since 2016, the Health Ministry said.

For timely detection and control of any impending upsurge or outbreak of the infection, state authorities have been advised to be vigilant and ensure the availability of appropriate logistics at all levels.

States were also urged to immediately report any detected case to the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) and the National Centre for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC)

In 2024, till July 2, Pune has recorded six cases in Pune and one each in Kolhapur and Sangamner.

Zika testing facilities are available at the National Institute of Virology, Pune; the National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, and a few selected virus research and diagnostic laboratories of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The Directorate General Of Health Services issued an advisory on April 26 while the director of the NCVBDC issued two advisories in February and April 2024, to forewarn states on Zika, dengue and chikungunya. PTI