Thursday, July 7, 2016
Thailand - 9 Cases In Thailand And Now 1 In Singapore, 6 Things To Know About The Zika Virus
When news broke over the weekend that Singapore had its first Zika case involving a expatriate who lived in Watten Estate in Bukit Timah, residents in the neighbourhood became alarmed.
Madam Chan, who occasionally stays with her daughter's family in Watten Estate, was shocked when she heard the new, Singapore local news daily The New Paper reports.
"I don't even dare to have plants or ponds because of this virus," she said.
In a joint press release by Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) yesterday, it was revealed that the "patient is a 48-year-old male Singapore permanent resident who had travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil from March 27 to May 7 this year."
Meanwhile Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya assured Malaysians that the country is still safe from the Zika virus.
"We have done the survey and investigate every case involving dengue fever for Zika research and there are no cases of Zika virus in Malaysia," he told reporters after a World Health Day event at Menara DBKL yesterday.
Health Ministry's director-general, Datuk Noor Hisham Abdullah also confirmed that the affected individual never visited Malaysia.
He also stated that our country had been in contact with its Singapore counterpart to exchange information on the Zika virus, and that Malaysia is free of the virus so far, The Straits Times report. The Singapore news daily also published a guideline with information obtained from its Health Ministry.
1. WHAT IS THE ZIKA VIRUS?
First isolated by scientists in 1947 from a sentinel rhesus monkey, the word "zika" is derived from the Zika forest in Uganda. The Aedes mosquito - which also spreads dengue and chikungunya - is the only known carrier of the virus.
2. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR?
During the first week of infection, the virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. Symptoms like a slight fever, rash, conjunctivitis, headache as well as joint and muscle pain are commonly displayed. Hospitalization is usually not prescribed and deaths are rare.
3. CAN THE VIRUS BE TREATED?
There is currently no vaccine available for the virus, so only the symptoms can be treated. Similar to preventive measures taken to eradicate the Aedes mosquito, curbing its spread means getting rid of stagnant pools of water. Using insect repellent, wearing clothing that cover the body, arms and legs, and sleep under mosquito nets or in rooms with wire mesh are among the other preventive measures.
4. IS THE VIRUS REALLY LINKED TO A BIRTH DEFECT?
There has been a marked increase in microcephaly in Brazil over the past year, with 4,759 cases reported in the week through May 7, 2016 with the Zika virus alleged to cause microcephaly. More studies are being planned to establish the risks of a Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
5. HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAVE REPORTED ACTIVE TRANSMISSION OF THE VIRUS?
As of May 12, 2016, 48 countries and territories in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean have active Zika virus transmissions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
6. SHOULD OTHER REGIONS BE WORRIED?
The Zika virus had been endemic in areas in Africa, South-east Asia and the Pacific Islands before 2015. In March 2014, two tourists from Canada and Germany were diagnosed with Zika fever after returning from Thailand in 2013. That same year, Australia also reported a case of Zika fever in a returning citizen from Indonesia. In January 2016, Taiwan had its first reported case of the virus. A 24-year-old man from northern Thailand was hospitalised in the country after travelling there for work on Jan 10.