The onset of the future outbreak has been predicted by researchers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Jamia Millia Islamia.
‘In 2017, Zika virus became a cause of concern for the Indian health officials, and in order to avoid panic, they with held Information regarding three positive cases in Gujarat, which later came out in a report of World Health Organisation (WHO).’
can cause microcephaly — a rare birth defect marked by unusually small head size, eye abnormalities, and nerve damage in babies.
In 2017, Zika virus became a cause of concern for the Indian health officials, and in order to avoid panic, they withheld Information regarding three positive cases in Gujarat, which later came out in a report of World Health Organization (WHO).
, Zika, and chikungunya all have the same vectors (disease carriers) - mosquitoes and Delhi is considered to be a favorable environment for these Mosquito Borne Diseases
"Because of the prevalence of Aedes Aegypti mosquito, we are witnessing regular outbreaks of dengue and chikungunya. We should prepare ourselves to face a Zika outbreak as well," said Dr. Shama Parveen, assistant professor, Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences (CIRBSc), Jamia Millia Islamia.
Dr. Parveen, with her team of researchers, has been trying to identify inhibitors for some specific proteins against the Zika virus, but has not successed so far, she also said that the computational study which is essential will take a few years.
Zika become a global threat in 2015 when babies were born with microcephaly in Brazil. The WHO had then declared the zika virus as a global health emergency. Even though it is no longer an emergency, high vigilance still needs to be maintained for this particular virus.
According to a recent study, India has been infected with Zika virus before; It was in 1952, Zika antibodies were found in Indians.
Researchers, however, explained that its very existence among the population may have caused an immunity, but due to the very nature of the virus, which keeps changing its genome (complete set of genes), immunity can become irrelevant after a time period.
"A positive-strand RNA virus is a very unstable molecule. Since Zika has RNA as genetic material, every time it replicates, the genome changes. This makes it a very difficult virus to produce a vaccine for," said Dr. Muneeb Faiq, Clinical Researcher, AIIMS.
"Since we have been seeing dengue and chikungunya outbreaks, we anticipate a Zika outbreak in the near future. The mechanism of this spread will be similar to other vectors," said Faiq.
Duane J Gubler, an expert in the field of mosquito-borne diseases warned India about the genetic changes in zika virus that the country has picked up over the years as it could make the Outbreak even more uncontrollable if it occurred.