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Bangladesh finds Zika virus in old blood sample

22The mosquito-borne Zika virus exists in Bangladesh as the government has tested an old sample ‘positive’ for the virus.
It has caused global concern for its link with microcephaly in which a baby is born with a small head.
A government source confirmed to bdnews24.com the recent test result, saying that Health Minister Mohammed Nasim will announce this ‘in a few days’.
A bdnews24.com correspondent in Chittagong said a health team from Dhaka had been deployed in “a specific area” of the city, where the government source said the virus was found.
The team was going home to home in that area to collect information, a practice known as ‘contact tracing’ after any new outbreak.
When asked, Prof AKM Shamsuzzaman, Line Director of the government’s Communicable Disease Control, said: “we have strengthened our regular searching activities in Chittagong”.
But he refused to comment about the presence of Zika. The scientists of the government’s disease monitoring arm, IEDCR, who usually speak to media on behalf of the government, also declined comment.
A senior official at the health directorate told bdnews24.com that the minister and state minister would come before media with the information and that’s why others have been asked not to speak on this issue.
The government earlier in February, after the WHO’s emergency call to Zika virus, decided to test old blood samples stored at the IEDCR again to exclude the presence of Zika virus in Bangladesh.
Those samples had earlier tested negative for dengue and chikungunya, the two prevalent diseases in Bangladesh, caused by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
As this same mosquito was causing Zika virus infection and the WHO had declared it an international public health emergency, the government took the decision to test those negative samples again for Zika virus.
Mosquito control the key
The person from Chittagong was a man over 60 years old. He suffered dengue nearly a year ago when the blood was collected. “He has been cured,” the government source said.
It means there is nothing to panic at this moment, but it calls for urgent mosquito control which is the only tool to prevent and fight off Zika.
This vector control would mostly depend on the individual houses, as the Aedes mosquito breeds in fresh water inside the houses and adjacent areas.
The WHO has urged countries to “strengthen surveillance and take preventive measures” against the disease which is linked to thousands of suspected cases of birth defects, microcephaly, in Brazil.
Brazil, which is grappling to contain the spread, has even passed a law allowing the mosquito control authorities to enter the private houses and spray insecticides, if needed.
The Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis.
The illness is usually mild with the symptoms lasting a week. In 80 percent of the cases, symptoms do not appear. There is no vaccine for the disease.
The disease also does not spread person to person through respiratory droplets. bdnews24.com