CDC Warning Travelers to Avoid Southeast Asia Due to Zika Virus

ALL pregnant women in Thailand may soon have to be tested for the Zika virus as the government was studying the need to do so following the first recorded cases of abnormal births last week. Commissioned by the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the preliminary results point Zika is main culprit behind the babies born with smaller head in the country.

"Zika virus has been present in areas of Southeast Asia for many years, and several countries have reported occasional cases or small outbreaks".

"The health minister has asked us to study whether this is necessary and cost-effective", health ministry permanent secretary, Sophon Mekthon said.

USA health authorities on Friday extended to six months a warning to men about the risky time period for sexually spreading Zika virus, which often carries no symptoms but can cause devastating birth defects.

Regular ultrasounds during pregnancy are essential for identifying children who might be subject to congenital Zika syndrome, Tanuri said. The presence of the Zika virus was confirmed during pregnancy in all the mothers involved; ultrasound exams revealed abnormalities in brain development of the pregnant women's fetuses. "So far, we've tested about 1,000 pregnant women", Sophon said.

The two confirmed cases of microcephaly were the first in Southeast Asia linked to mosquito-borne Zika, which has been spreading in the region after outbreaks in the Americas. "This is the first serious (microcephaly) case, so we will be increasing the efforts for control and monitoring".

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The confirmation came following the Thai public health ministry's announcement earlier last week that it was investigating the four suspected cases of Zika-related microcephaly in three babies and a 37-weeks-old unborn baby.

It advised pregnant women who travel or live in the region to talk to their doctor and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

The infection is, however, typically mild and seldom causes death, but shares symptoms with its vastly more fatal cousin, dengue - a common viral scourge in tropical Southeast Asia. This makes nations ordinarily ravaged by dengue particularly vulnerable to Zika as well.

Patient 2 had not travelled to a Zika-infected area, and reconstruction of events ruled out other known means of catching the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said people should consider postponing travel to Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Thailand, East Timor, and Vietnam.

Based on available evidence, World Health Organization does not recommend trade or travel restrictions with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.

  • Ismael Montgomery