Zika dou­bles in Viet­nam as cases in­crease in south

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

The num­ber of con­firmed Zika cases in Viet­nam has more than dou­bled over the past three days to 23, with a dozen of the new in­fec­tions recorded in the com­mer­cial hub of Ho Chi Minh City, the health min­istry said yes­ter­day. The mosquito­borne virus has been spread­ing in South­east Asia after out­breaks in the Amer­i­cas. Thai­land re­ported the re­gion’s first con­firmed case of mi­cro­cephaly, a birth de­fect marked by small head size, linked to Zika in late Septem­ber.

On Sun­day, Viet­nam’s health min­istry re­ported its first mi­cro­cephaly case that it said was likely linked to Zika. The min­istry said 14 more cases of Zika were re­ported since Sun­day, most in the south of the coun­try. Seven­teen of Viet­nam’s 23 cases have been in the south’s Ho Chi Minh City, the coun­try’s big­gest city. Health of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment on the surge in cases.

Viet­nam last month raised the threat level for Zika and stepped up mon­i­tor­ing of preg­nant women. Zika in­fec­tions in preg­nant women have been shown to cause mi­cro­cephaly - a se­vere birth de­fect in which the head and brain are un­der­sized as well as other brain ab­nor­mal­i­ties. The con­nec­tion be­tween Zika and mi­cro­cephaly first came to light last year in Brazil, which has since con­firmed more than 1,900 cases of mi­cro­cephaly.

In adults, Zika in­fec­tions have also been linked to a rare neu­ro­log­i­cal syn­drome known as Guil­lain-Barre, as well as other neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders. There is no vac­cine or treat­ment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikun­gunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An es­ti­mated 80 per­cent of peo­ple in­fected have no symp­toms, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for preg­nant women to know whether they have been in­fected. —Reuters

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