Screening for Zika virus at B'luru, Mangaluru airports from today

Immigration officers told to share details of passengers coming from Americas

Screening for Zika virus at B'luru, Mangaluru airports from today

 Following the advisory from the Centre, the State Health department will intensify screening for Zika virus carriers at the Kempegowda International Airport and the Mangalore International Airport from Thursday onwards.

The Health department, which is coordinating with the airport authorities, has decided to depute two doctors and paramedical staff each from Bengaluru Urban and Rural to the KIA to assist the airport doctors who are already on the job. Screening is already on for the ‘yellow fever’, which is one of the five diseases spread from the ‘aedes aegypti’ mosquito. The others are dengue, chikungunya, West Nile fever and Zika.

The department has also asked the immigration officers to share details of all passengers who are coming into Bengaluru and Mangaluru from the 22 countries in the Americas where the virus has spread. The passengers with any of the symptoms, including fever, headache, chills, joint and muscular pain and red eye, will be quarantined and taken to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD) for further medical investigation. The department has identified RGICD as the nodal hospital for the purpose.

Under observation

The passengers with symptoms will be kept under observation in mosquito-proof rooms, until they are certified to be free from infection, said Dr Prakash Kumar B G, Joint Director of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP), who has been appointed as the nodal officer. Dr Prakash said that all passengers travelling in from these said countries will be asked to be “doubly” careful.  Decisions to this effect were taken during a meeting chaired by Health Minister U T Khader in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, Khader said that as there are no RT-PCR labs in the State, blood samples will have to be sent either to Pune or New Delhi for investigation. He said that he will write to the Union Health Ministry to make available test kits, which are currently not available in the country. The department has also sought a virology lab.

The minister also said that district health officers had been directed to strengthen IEC (information, education and communication) about the disease, in their respective districts. Focus will be on educating pregnant women, who are more at health risk, to protect themselves from mosquito bites. A decision will be also be taken to provide mosquito repellents to the beneficiaries of Thayi/Madilu schemes.

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