Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys by researchers monitoring yellow fever. The virus got its name from the Zika Forest in Uganda where it was first discovered. It is classified as a flavivirus, which puts it in the same family as yellow fever, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis viruses and dengue. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Brazil saw 20 times more microcephaly cases in 2015 than usual, following the outbreak of Zika in the country that year.
The Zika virus, explained
First Zika patient getting better
The first Zika patient in the country is recuperating well at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
The hospital’s infectious disease head Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said the symptoms that the 58-year-old woman suffered from, including rashes, had also cleared up.
“We will be doing a blood test on her today and if it turns out to be negative, we can let her go home in a few days’ time,” he said yesterday.
He said her mild rashes cleared up in two or three days and the last blood test was negative but the hospital decided to keep her for a little longer just to ensure there would be no transmission to other people.
The blood test today was to reconfirm that she was free of Zika, he said.
The woman and her husband had visited their daughter in Singapore on Aug 19 and returned on Aug 21.
A week later, the woman developed rashes and fever, and sought medical attention at a private clinic in Klang.
She was referred to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, and on Aug 31, her urine sample tested positive for the Zika virus.
Her daughter, who works and lives in Paya Lebar, Singapore, has also been infected.
The woman’s husband and other family members who lived in the same house in Ambang Botanic have yet to show any symptoms of the infection.
Dr Lee said the most common symptoms of Zika were fever, body aches, rashes and red eyes which would normally clear up within a few days.
He said that if a woman was infected by Zika, the vaginal fluids might contain the virus for up to two months after she had recovered.
“So, if she has sex with a man within the two months, the man can be infected with Zika.
“The virus can also stay in a man’s semen for up to six months after he has recovered.”
Infected pregnant women face the risk of delivering a child with microcephaly, while others might suffer from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition.
According to the American National Institute of Neurological Disorder’s fact sheet, Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralysed.
Dr Lee recommended that pregnant women who have travelled to affected countries like Brazil and Singapore go for check-ups at nearby hospitals.
By Loh foon fong, wani muthiah, joseph kaos, tho xin yi, shazni ong, christopher tan, neville spykerman, dina murad, victoria brown, mohd farhaan shah, norbaiti phaharoradzi, nabila ahmad, rebecca rajaendram, edward rajendra The Star/ANN
Take precautions when in Singapore
Personal measure: Bus passenger Naizatul Takiah Ali, 21, spraying mosquito repellent on herself at the Larkin bus terminal in Johor Baru.
It is unrealistic to stop Malaysians from travelling to Singapore, but people must take precautions against mosquito bites, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
There are about 200,000 Malaysians working in Singapore, with some travelling to and fro on a daily basis, so it would be difficult to block people from going to the republic, he said.
“We have to be realistic. The more practical way to prevent the spread of the Zika virus is to take precautions against mosquito bites.
“Apply an adequate amount of mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten.
“If you can avoid visiting Singapore, then avoid.
“But this is only voluntary and not an instruction from Malaysia. Malaysians visiting the republic should take preventive measures against mosquito bites,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.
He said Malaysians who have visited Singapore and have symptoms of the virus such as fever and rashes should seek immediate attention.
Dr Subramaniam also said vehicles coming into Malaysia from Singapore, especially buses, would be sprayed with insecticide as an additional measure.
“We know this does not prevent the spread of the virus 100%, but is an additional precautionary measure on top of other methods that we have carried out throughout the country,” he added.
The minister also said pregnant women or those planning to have a child should seek advice from their doctors, as there has been a reported link between the Zika virus with microcephaly, which causes deformity in babies.
Those who are infected should abstain from having sex, or use protection, as the virus can be spread through sexual activities.
“The virus can stay in an infected man’s body for six months and for two months inside a woman’s body,” he said.
Singapore battling outbreak of Zika virus
Foreigners account for half of Singapore cases
SINGAPORE: Half of the Zika cases in Singapore are foreigners who live or work here, and six of them are Malaysians.
According to a report in TODAYonline.com which quoted the Singapore Ministry of Health, the news portal said that out of 115 cases, 57 are foreigners.
The largest group is 23 people from China, followed by 15 from India and 10 from Bangladesh.
Six cases are Malaysians, and one case each from Indonesia, Myanmar and Taiwan.
“All had mild illnesses. Most have recovered while the rest are recovering well,” a ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying.
On Saturday, it was reported that a Malaysian woman is believed to be the first patient infected by locally-transmitted Zika virus in Singapore.
As the 47-year-old had not travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, she was likely to have been infected in the republic. She resides at Block 102, Aljunied Crescent and works in Singapore. — Bernama
Parents-to-be taking additional precautions against disease
Reality bites hard in Ambang Botanic
At ease after keeping Aedes out
Doc: Clean up your act
It will spread but we must put a stop to it, says minister
Rio Olympics contingent reported to be Zika-free