The World Health Organization (WHO) said India’s health ministry had confirmed three cases of the mosquito-borne virus from the city of Ahmedabad in western Gujarat state.
These include microcephaly, where babies are born with abnormally small heads and restricted brain development.
Although the virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes, it can also be sexually transmitted.
Why Asia should worry about Zika too
Zika virus ‘no longer an emergency’ – WHO Even before the first official case of the Zika vir^s was registered in Nigeria, researchers concluded in a paper published in 1953 that “significant numbers” of people had been exposed to the virus in India. A total of 33 of the 196 people tested for the new disease had immunity.
More than 60 years later, the three cases in India detailed in a statement by the UN health agency included two women, aged 22 and 34, and a 64-year-old man.
The 34-year-old woman delivered a “clinically well baby” on 9 November 2016; the 22-year-old woman was tested positive for the virus in her 37th week of pregnancy. None of the three, according to reports, had travelled outside the country.
“The two pregnant mothers have delivered healthy babies and the 64-year-old senior citizen has shown no complications at all,” JN Singh, the senior-most bureaucrat in Gujarat, told reporters at the weekend.
He also said the government “consciously did not go public with the cases” as the number of cases didn’t rise.
Authorities in Gujarat said the cases were reported in a bustling neighbourhood between November 2016 and February 2017.
The infection has been linked to severe birth defects in almost 30 countries.Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with head and brain defects
But there has been shock and consternation among many independent public health professionals and analysts on why the public was not informed of the cases immediately after they were detected.