Sunday October 22, 2017
Home Uncategorized ‘India ...

‘India should curb travel from Americas to prevent Zika virus from entering India’

0
114
Zika virus

New Delhi: The mosquito-borne Zika virus – a pathogen which was virtually unheard of till some days ago – is spreading so fast that it can infect nearly four million people in the Americas in next 12 months if not tackled well within time and the threat has now reached India.

In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease. Since then, the disease has spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries and territories in the Americas.

Pregnant women are at greater risk. According to health authorities, the virus may trigger a brain abnormality called microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head) in new-born babies though the link is yet to be established.

Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of Aedes species mosquito which breeds in water-holding containers. Like dengue, it is a day-biting mosquito.

“India has to be on the alert because international travel from central and South America, Africa and the Caribbean Islands can potentially carry the virus into our country,” said Dr Monica Mahajan, senior consultant (internal medicine) at Max Super Specialty Hospital in the capital.

The union health ministry said on Friday that it is making sure that India is well prepared against cases of Zika virus that has already caused much damage in the Americas.

In its latest advisory, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also cautioned pregnant women to avoid travelling to countries at risk of Zika virus transmission.

However, most cases are mild and only one in five humans bitten by the mosquito will develop the disease. Symptoms are similar to chikungunya and dengue but fortunately, complications are rare.

“The recent concern is twofold: There have been cases reported in more nations compared to outbreaks prior to 2015. Secondly, there is concern about possible birth defects in case a pregnant lady gets infected,” Mahajan said.

According to her, past experience with the dengue epidemic shows that mosquito breeding in India is rampant and difficult to control.

“So any mosquito-borne illness tends to spread easily owing to overcrowding and hygiene issues. So till such time that diagnostic facilities are available, the best option is mosquito control measures to prevent mosquito breeding,” she added.

A patient suffering from fever with a rash should be protected from further mosquito bites during the first few days of illness so that he does not pass the virus into more mosquitoes and cause local transmission of disease.

“Zika virus is a vector-borne disease. Currently, it may not be here in India, but if a person lands in India with the active infection and gets bitten by Aedes mosquito and that mosquito bites other peoples this can be spread in India as well,” Dr J.S. Bhasin, senior consultant and HOD (Pediatric and Neonatology department) at BLK Super Specialty Hospital in Delhi.

According to Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), “the level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty. Questions abound. We need to get some answers quickly.”

WHO is set to convene an international health regulations emergency committee on Zika virus on February 1 in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

“Arrival of the virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a poorly understood condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis,” a WHO statement read.

The WHO was criticized last year for reacting slowly to Ebola epidemic that killed over 10,000 people.

“A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established, but is strongly suspected,” the WHO statement added.

The virus was first isolated in 1947 from a rhesus macaque monkey from Zika forest in Uganda.(Nishant Arora, IANS)(Photo: qcostarica.com)

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Next Story

Anti-dengue Antibody Drug May Neutralize Zika Virus

0
35
Zika spreading mosquito
Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species of mosquito primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus. (southcom)

Washington, Sep 26: An anti-dengue antibody-based drug could potentially protect a mother and her foetus from the deadly Zika virus as well, suggests new research.

In experiments with mice, the researchers found that an antibody that protects against dengue virus is also effective against Zika.

“We found that this antibody not only neutralises the dengue virus but, in mice, protects both adults and foetuses from Zika disease,” said Michael Diamond, Professor at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and senior author of the study published in the journal Nature Immunology.

Antibodies remain in the bloodstream for weeks, so one or a few doses of an antibody-based drug given over the course of a woman’s pregnancy potentially could protect her foetus from Zika, with the added benefit of protecting her from both Zika and dengue disease, the researchers said.

Dengue causes high fever, severe headaches, and joint and muscle pain in children and adults but does not directly harm foetuses.

Since dengue and Zika are related viruses, the researchers reasoned that an antibody that prevents dengue disease may do the same for Zika.

In collaboration with Gavin Screaton of Imperial College London, who had generated a panel of human anti-dengue antibodies years before, the scientists infected nonpregnant adult mice with Zika virus and then administered one of the anti-dengue antibodies one, three or five days after infection.

For comparison, another group of mice was infected with Zika virus and then given a placebo.

Within three weeks of infection, more than 80 per cent of the untreated mice had died, whereas all of the mice that received the anti-dengue antibody within three days of infection were still alive, and 40 per cent of those that received the antibody five days after infection survived.

To find out whether the antibody also could protect foetuses from infection, the researchers infected female mice on the sixth day of their pregnancies with Zika virus and then administered a dose of antibody or a placebo one or three days later.

On the 13th day of gestation, the amount of Zika’s genetic material were significantly lower in the placentas and in the foetal heads from the pregnant mice that were treated one day after infection, compared with mice that received the placebo.

However, administering the antibody three days after infection was less effective, the findings showed.

These findings suggest that for the antibody to effectively protect foetuses from Zika infection, it must be administered soon after infection.

Such a goal may be unrealistic clinically because women rarely know when they get infected.

However, giving women the antibody as soon as they know they are pregnant could provide them with a ready-made defence against the virus should they encounter it.

“We mutated the antibody so that it could not cause antibody enhancement of dengue infection, and it was still protective,” said Diamond.

“So now we have a version of the antibody that would be therapeutic against both viruses and safe for use in a dengue-endemic area because it is unable to worsen disease,” Diamond added.(IANS)

Next Story

Indian Origin Scientist Part of the team that Developed Nanotechnology-based Test that quickly Detects Zika Virus

When a drop of the patient's blood is applied on the paper mounted on the nanorods, the immunoglobulins in the blood will react with the protein if the patient has come into contact with the virus and demonstrate a colour change

0
53
Test that quickly discovers Zika virus
Transmission Electron Micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus. Wikimedia Commons
  • Scientists have developed a nanotechnology based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood
  • The new test relies on a protein made by the Zika virus
  • The test is very quick as the results would be declared before the patient even leaves the clinic

New Delhi, August 13, 2017: Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a nanotechnology-based test that can quickly detect the presence of the Zika virus in the blood, an advance that may also be applicable to other emerging infectious diseases.

Currently, testing for Zika requires that a blood sample be refrigerated and shipped to a medical centre or laboratory, delaying diagnosis and possible treatment for Zika virus.

The new test, however, relies on a protein made by the Zika virus that causes an immune response in infected individuals, which is then attached to tiny gold nanorods mounted on a piece of paper.

The paper then is completely covered with tiny, protective nanocrystals. The nanocrystals allow the diagnostic nanorods to be shipped and stored without refrigeration prior to use, the researchers said.

“If an assay requires electricity and refrigeration, it defeats the purpose of developing something to use in a resource-limited setting, especially in tropical areas of the world,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, Associate Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis.

“We wanted to make the test immune from variations in temperature and humidity,” Singamaneni added.

When a drop of the patient’s blood is applied on the paper mounted on the nanorods, the immunoglobulins in the blood will react with the protein if the patient has come into contact with the virus and demonstrate a colour change.

“The immunoglobulins persist in the blood for a few months, and when they come into contact with the gold nanorods, the nanorods undergo a slight colour change that can be detected with a hand-held spectrophotometer,” explained Jeremiah J. Morrissey, Professor at the varsity.

Also read: Zika Virus Infection may cause lasting Eye Diseases, also posing a wider Threat in Human pregnancies: Study

“With this test, results will be clear before the patient leaves the clinic, allowing immediate counselling and access to treatment,” he added in the paper detailed in the journal Advanced Biosystems.

As other infectious diseases emerge around the world, similar strategies potentially could be used to develop tests to detect the presence of viruses that may become problematic, the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Zika Virus Infection may cause lasting Eye Diseases, also posing a wider Threat in Human pregnancies: Study

Studying Zika infection in monkeys may help follow the progress of the mosquito-transmitted infection and associated health problems in humans

0
69

New York, May 26, 2017: Zika virus infection may cause lasting eye diseases and may be thus posing a wider threat in human pregnancies than previously thought, scientists have found.

The study, conducted on rhesus monkeys, showed that although the foetus affected with Zika virus did not show its typical symptoms such as shrunken heads or microcephaly, unusual inflammation in the foetal eyes, in the retinas and optic nerves, in pregnancies infected were observed.

“Our eyes are basically part of our central nervous system. The optic nerve grows right out from the foetal brain during pregnancy,” said Kathleen Antony, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

NewsGram brings to you latest new stories in India.

“It makes some sense to see this damage in the monkeys and in human pregnancy — problems such as chorioretinal atrophy or microphthalmia in which the whole eye or parts of the eye just don’t grow to the expected size,” she added.

In the study, published in the journal PLOS Pathogens, the team infected four pregnant rhesus macaque monkeys with a Zika virus dose similar to what would be transferred by a mosquito bite.

The findings revealed that the virus was present in each monkey’s foetus.

“That is a very high level — 100 per cent exposure — of the virus to the foetus along with inflammation and tissue injury in an animal model that mirrors the infection in human pregnancies quite closely,” Golos said.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Moreover, three of the foetuses involved had small heads, but not quite so small as children born with microcephaly.

Studying Zika infection in monkeys may help follow the progress of the mosquito-transmitted infection and associated health problems in humans, the researchers said.

“The results we’re seeing in monkey pregnancies make us think that, as they grow, more human babies might develop Zika-related disease pathology than is currently appreciated,” Golos noted. (IANS)

NewsGram is a Chicago-based non-profit media organization. We depend upon support from our readers to maintain our objective reporting. Show your support by Donating to NewsGram. Donations to NewsGram are tax-exempt.