At least 89 people, including 17 children, have tested positive for the Zika virus in a spike in cases in the Indian city of Kanpur, its health department said Monday.
First discovered in 1947, the mosquito-borne Zika virus reached epidemic proportions in Brazil in 2015, when thousands of babies were born with microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.
“The number of Zika virus cases has skyrocketed and the health department has formed several teams to contain the spread,” Dr. Nepal Singh, chief physician for the Kanpur district in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, told Reuters.
“There is one woman who is pregnant, and we pay special attention to her.”
In recent years, cases have been reported in several states in India, although Amit Mohan Prasad, Uttar Pradesh’s chief government official for health and family welfare, told Reuters this is the first outbreak in the state.
The first case of Zika virus infection in the industrial city of Kanpur was detected on October 23, and the number of cases has increased over the past week.
“People are positive because we are very active in tracking contacts,” Prasad said. According to Singh, authorities are increasing surveillance of the outbreak and eliminating the breeding grounds of mosquitoes that carry the virus.