Zika Current Affairs - 2019

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India rebuts CDC Zika alert for Indian travel

The Indian Government has strongly rebutted the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel advisory for Indian travel. The Zika alert will adversely affect tourism.

What is the travel advisory?

The CDC’s travel advisory forbids pregnant women to travel to India as Zika is “endemic” in the country. The advisory also asks travellers to take precaution to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel.

Pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas with risk of Zika because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

India was put under Level 2 alert which requires enhanced protection. Level 1 precaution calls for “usual precautions”, and Level 3 advises against non-essential travel.

India’s rebuttal

India has sent a rebuttal to CDC along with all research done on the Zika strain in India, the cases reported, measures taken etc. India has taken strong objection to the use of the word “endemic” because the Zika outbreaks in India are localised and contained within small areas, be it in Gujarat where three cases were reported last year, in Tamil Nadu or the more recent one in Rajasthan.

Research by scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research has shown that the Zika strains in India are less virulent than in Brazil and are not associated with microcephaly.


Zika is a mosquito-borne infection spread by a virus. Zika was first identified in Uganda in 1947 among monkeys and was detected in humans five years later. Sporadic cases have since been reported across the world since the 1960s. In 2015, Brazil reported a major Zika outbreak. The research’s also linked Zika to microcephaly (i.e. babies born with small and underdeveloped brains).

Scientist develop rapid test to diagnose Zika and dengue

Researchers including from India have developed low-cost, rapid diagnostic test consisting of pan-dengue strip for diagnosing Zika and dengue viruses and differentiating four serotypes of dengue virus.

Zika and dengue both belong to same viral family, which are called flaviviruses. They are two closely related viruses spread by the same mosquito

Key Facts

The test resembles pregnancy test strip and contains antibodies that react to presence of Zika or dengue virus, and also contains gold nanoparticles that respond to antibody reaction. It does not have cross-reactivity leading to wrong diagnosis as antigens specific to dengue and Zika viruses were identified.

To use the test, medical professional dipped strip into a tube of either blood serum or whole blood of patient. If the test is positive, then dot or line was seen on the strip that results from seeing gold nanoparticles that signal antibodies recognising viral protein.

The diagnostic test has nearly 100% ability to distinguish between two virus infections. It has nearly 76-100% sensitivity and specificity in case of dengue and in case of Zika, it has 81% sensitivity and 86% specificity.