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Study flags huge Zika virus threat to India via travellers, mosquitoes

by September 3, 2016 General

NEW DELHI: High travel volumes from disease-hit areas in the American continent and the presence of mosquitoes capable of transmitting the virus has made India vulnerable to the risk of Zika, according to a new study.

The study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal said many countries across Africa and Asia-Pacific may be vulnerable to Zika virus outbreaks, with India, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Nigeria, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Bangladesh expected to face the greatest risk of Zika virus transmission.

The risk is due to a combination of high travel volumes from Zika-affected areas in the Americas, local presence of  mosquitoes capable of transmitting the Zika virus, suitable climatic conditions, large populations or limited health resources, it said.

The study said countries with large volumes of travellers arriving from Zika virus-affected areas of the Americas and large populations at risk include India (6,74,22 travellers arriving per year and 1.2 billion residents in potential Zika transmission areas) and China (2,38,415 travellers, 242 million residents).

“The impact on populations will also depend heavily on the country’s ability to diagnose and respond to a possible outbreak,” it said.

The study comes after 13 Indians tested positive for the Zika virus in Singapore and are undergoing treatment in the city-state which is grappling with a rising cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

In February, the WHO declared the spread of Zika a global emergency, and epidemics have been sparked in at least 70 countries. Researchers hope their new study will help officials plan ahead to possibly avoid some of the worst effects of Zika.