Bengaluru, Feb 1: India is yet to take concrete action to make people aware about the zika virus that has created havoc in South America and other countries. Testing facilities are yet to put in place, no screening procedures at airports, and no guidelines on how to tackle it if it spreads its wings in the country.
The growing presence of Zika virus in Brazil, US has drawn international attention this month. The Zika virus is thought to cause brain damage in babies called microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads.
The virus is primarily thought to be transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
According to the Times of India, doctors in Bengaluru have started sharing by sharing messages on WhatsApp groups to keep themselves updated about the disease.
Bengaluru may be at risk of zika virus threat as a large number of people travel to South America and other countries where the virus has struck.
Garbage menace in the city has also put the city on risk.
"There is no need to fear. The virus has not yet come to India. We have no power to issue guidelines. The Centre must do it . We are yet to understand what kind of surveillance needed to screen travellers coming from the affected countries," said Dr GM Vamadeva, director, health and family welfare department.
"India is vulnerable to Zika infection. It's definitely going to be a threat. A lot of Indians travel to South America. The government must set up systems at airports to screen those coming from the affected areas. We do not have facilities to test, identify and monitor Zika. Commercial testing kits are the need of the hour," said Dr Satish Amar nath, head of quality compliance and outreach programmes at Manipal hospital.