Zika alert is­sued for preg­nant women

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NEWS - HT Correspondent let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

Fear­ing an out­break, In­dia is is­su­ing a travel alert ask­ing preg­nant women to avoid travel to the 24 coun­tries and ter­ri­to­ries where the Zika virus is sus­pected to cause mi­cro­cephaly, a con­di­tion in which ba­bies are born with ab­nor­mally small heads and brain dam­age.

Each year, 26 mil­lion ba­bies are born in In­dia, which puts sev­eral thou­sands of them at risk from get­ting in­fected and de­vel­op­ing ab­nor­mal­i­ties in the womb.

Un­like the in­fluenza viruses such as H1N1, Zika in­fec­tion does not spread di­rectly from peo­ple to peo­ple. Trans­mis­sion oc­curs only when an aedes egypti mos­quito, which also spreads dengue, chikun­gunya and yel­low fever, bites an in­fected per­son and spreads the in­fec­tion to other peo­ple it feeds on. Iso­lat­ing in­fected trav­el­ers with symp­toms makes it pos­si­ble to break the chain of in­fec­tion from spread­ing across con­ti­nents if in­fected peo­ple are stopped at the bor­ders and treated in iso­la­tion.

Be­gin­ning next week, all in­ter­na­tional air­ports in In­dia will have signs ask­ing pas­sen­gers com­ing from south and cen­tral Amer­i­cas and the Caribbean to re­port symp­toms of the virus.

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