India rebuts CDC Zika alert for Indian travel
The Indian Government has strongly rebutted the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) travel advisory for Indian travel. The Zika alert will adversely affect tourism.
What is the travel advisory?
The CDC’s travel advisory forbids pregnant women to travel to India as Zika is “endemic” in the country. The advisory also asks travellers to take precaution to prevent mosquito bites and use condoms or not have sex to protect against Zika during travel.
Pregnant women are advised not to travel to areas with risk of Zika because Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
India was put under Level 2 alert which requires enhanced protection. Level 1 precaution calls for “usual precautions”, and Level 3 advises against non-essential travel.
India has sent a rebuttal to CDC along with all research done on the Zika strain in India, the cases reported, measures taken etc. India has taken strong objection to the use of the word “endemic” because the Zika outbreaks in India are localised and contained within small areas, be it in Gujarat where three cases were reported last year, in Tamil Nadu or the more recent one in Rajasthan.
Research by scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research has shown that the Zika strains in India are less virulent than in Brazil and are not associated with microcephaly.
Zika is a mosquito-borne infection spread by a virus. Zika was first identified in Uganda in 1947 among monkeys and was detected in humans five years later. Sporadic cases have since been reported across the world since the 1960s. In 2015, Brazil reported a major Zika outbreak. The research’s also linked Zika to microcephaly (i.e. babies born with small and underdeveloped brains).