Rajasthan mounts efforts as Zika cases climb to 55

The Zika outbreak in Jaipur pushed authorities to go into an overdrive as it spread to more areas on Saturday. The number of infected cases climbed to 55, said health authorities.

Confined to Shastri Nagar of the city until Friday, authorities have now come across patients from Sindhi Camp, which houses Rajasthan’s biggest bus terminal. This has raised concerns as the mosquito-borne disease also gets transmitted through infected persons.

The latest pressure comes after six students from Rajput hostel, which is barely 300 metres from the bus terminal, tested positive in less than 24 hours. Of the 125 students there, the district administration has so far collected 30 blood samples.

“An Aedes mosquito [the virus carrier] can cover nearly 500 metres. Since the distance between the hostel and bus terminal is much less, it’s a cause for worry. Any infected passenger could be a potential transmitter of the disease and it can reach other states and many districts of Rajasthan,” said an official, who is part of a four-member central team monitoring the situation in Rajasthan.

While Zika triggers symptoms like fever, body pain and headache, it poses great risk to pregnant women as it severely impairs the brain growth in the foetus. Sources said the state government is to be blamed for the spread of Zika as it sat on the cases for 18 days before going public with the data on infected persons.

Additional Chief Secretary Veenu Gupta, who visited the hostel, said the blood samples of other students at Rajput hostel will be taken soon. “It is not possible to take samples of all students because only 80 samples can be collected in a day.”

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Zika cases have so far been reported only from Gujarat (3) and Tamil Nadu (1). Jaipur is the first city to be hit by an outbreak since the first case was detected on September 21.

However, the fact that not all can be tested for Zika has left the students anxious. They want to be tested at the earliest. “Dussehra and Diwali are coming up and we want to go to our hometowns. Why don’t they take our samples and test for Zika infection so that those who are not infected can go to their homes,” a student from the hostel said.

Officials also inspected hotels and motels that dot the roads leading to the Sindhi Camp bus terminal.


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