Four more cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in India’s Kerala, taking the total count of infected patients to 19. The test results of three people including a toddler have come out positive on Sunday, July 11. And one more person tested positive on Monday.

"A 22-month-old toddler was found infected. A 46-year-old man and a 29- year-old health worker have also been found infected. We have 18 confirmed cases of infection in the state," Kerala Health Minister, Veena George, said in a press release on Sunday.

A 73-year-old woman who was being treated at a private hospital in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram, also tested positive for the Zika virus on Monday.

According to the health minister, 35 samples were sent for testing in three batches. Of these, 32 have turned out to be negative, however, three samples came back with positive results.

The minister said that the state government has arranged testing facilities at four districts in the state.

2,100 test kits were received from the National Institute of Virology in Pune to be distributed to the four testing facilities in the state. Of these, 1,000 have been given to the Thiruvananthapuram medical colleges, 500 to NIV in Alappuzha, and 300 each to medical colleges in Thrissur and Kozhikode.

"The Thiruvananthapuram medical college received 500 Triplex Kit which enables the simultaneous detection and differentiation of RNA from dengue virus, chikungunya virus and Zika virus and 500 singleplex kits which can detect Zika virus alone," the health minister said.

"More labs in the state will be provided with testing facilities for Zika virus. We have 27 government labs in the state which can conduct RT-PCR tests and as more test kits reach the state, we will use these labs to carry out tests for Zika virus after getting permission from the NIV," she said.

The minister assured that the state government has stepped up to take necessary measures, including vector control, to curb the spread of the deadly virus and have instructed the hospitals in the state to test those patients who display symptoms like fever, rashes, and body pain.

Special attention was asked to be given to pregnant women as they are more prone to the virus and that it can cause birth defects.

"Some Zika cases have been reported from Kerala. To monitor the situation and to support the state government, a six-member team comprising public health experts, vector-borne disease experts, and clinicians from AIIMS has already been issued instructions to reach there and support the state government in terms of management of Zika there," Health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said.

The Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites. Currently, there is no vaccine or specific treatment for the disease.

Most patients display no symptoms. However, in a few cases, the virus can even trigger paralysis (Guillain-Barré Syndrome).

mosquito Representational image. Pixabay.