First Zika case con­firmed in Yan­gon

The Myanmar Times - - News - – Trans­la­tion by Kyawt Darly Lin and Zar Zar Soe PYAE THET PHYO

HEALTH of­fi­cials have stepped up their warn­ings to the pub­lic to avoid mos­qui­toes fol­low­ing the con­fir­ma­tion that a preg­nant woman was found to be in­fected with the Zika virus. The 32-year-old for­eigner, whose name and na­tion­al­ity have not been di­vulged ow­ing to pa­tient con­fi­den­tial­ity, is re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at home.

The Min­istry of Health and Sports said the woman had been con­firmed as in­fected fol­low­ing lab­o­ra­tory tests on October 27. She has lived in Myan­mar with her hus­band for two years, and was re­turn­ing from over­seas when she felt un­well and re­ported her symp­toms to the health au­thor­i­ties. The health de­part­ment has asked her not to leave home for two weeks.

“She has ac­cepted our sug­ges­tions and her co­op­er­a­tion is ex­cel­lent,” said Dr Aung Thu, an of­fi­cial of the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, adding that 30 other trav­ellers tested were all found to be neg­a­tive.

The preg­nant pa­tient is the first case to be con­firmed in Myan­mar, which has now in­formed the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The woman’s hus­band tested neg­a­tive for the virus, ac­cord­ing to Dr Soe Lwin Nyein, direc­tor gen­eral of the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health.

“They con­tacted us first and now they are re­ceiv­ing med­i­cal treat­ments,” he said.

The health min­istry has re­newed its warn­ings to the pub­lic to help con­trol the spread of the dis­ease. Mar­riage cou­ples liv­ing in Yan­gon have been ad­vised to avoid preg­nancy for the next six months.

“Mar­ried cou­ples where one per­son is in­fected with zika should avoid sex and preg­nancy,” said Dr Soe Lwin Nyein.

Zika is a flu-like virus spread by the aedes ae­gypti mosquito that can re­sult in se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions in the case of preg­nant women, whose ba­bies could suf­fer mi­cro­cephaly, where the fe­tus’ brain does not fully de­velop, and the rare paral­y­sis-in­duc­ing auto-im­mune disor­der Guil­lian-Barré Syn­drome.

It can also be sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted, but there are no re­ports in­di­cat­ing that the dis­ease can be spread by breast­feed­ing, a Fe­bru­ary sym­po­sium on the Zika virus was told.

Dr Than Htun Aung, deputy direc­tor gen­eral of the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, said the de­part­ment was ac­cel­er­at­ing its mosquito con­trol and sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

“Pub­lic co­op­er­a­tion is very im­por­tant. The best way to pre­vent Zika is to fight mos­qui­toes,” he said, urg­ing mem­bers of the pub­lic to avoid be­ing bit­ten.

The virus pro­duces symp­toms in one in five suf­fer­ers, with the symp­toms typ­i­cally be­gin­ning two to seven days after in­fec­tion. Symp­toms in­clude mus­cle pains, fever, headache, pain be­hind the eyes and vom­it­ing.

“It’s like the flu for most peo­ple, but preg­nant women should be aware of the risk of mi­cro­cephaly,” said Dr Aung Thu. The Aedes ae­gypti mosquito also car­ries dengue, yel­low fever, Ja­panese en­cephali­tis and the West Nile virus.

The health min­istry has been im­ple­ment­ing dis­ease con­trol and sur­veil­lance mea­sures since the WHO de­clared Zika to be an in­ter­na­tional pub­lic health emer­gency last Fe­bru­ary.

Cur­rently, the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health is car­ry­ing out 24-hour screen­ings for Zika at air­ports, Dr Thet Khaing Win, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary at the Min­istry of Health and Sports, said at an October 28 press con­fer­ence in Nay Pyi Taw.

He added that the min­istry has stepped up its pre­ven­tion ef­forts, and the pub­lic should not be anx­ious.

The Viet­namese foot­ball team, which will play Myan­mar in the Suzuki Cup, will be tested for the Zika virus when they ar­rive at Yan­gon In­ter­na­tional Air­port, said Dr Thet Khine Win, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Health and Sports, on October 28.

Zika has also been de­tected in Viet­nam, he said.

“We will have a pub­lic health group at the air­port. The team will be ex­am­ined whether they have symp­toms or not,” he said.

How­ever, a pos­i­tive test would not stop the team play­ing, he said. “If Zika is found, we will make fur­ther de­tailed analy­ses. They will not lose their chance to play here.”

“Test­ing for Zika at the air­port has been de­cided at the na­tional level. So far, our play­ers have not re­ceived any spe­cial warn­ing be­cause Viet­nam is in the same group as us,” said U Phone Paing Zaw, CEO of Myan­mar Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion.

Photo: AFP

A mosquito sits on a man’s leg in Yan­gon on October 30. On October 28, the health min­istry con­firmed that a preg­nant for­eign woman has been di­ag­nosed with the coun­try’s first case of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus linked to birth de­fects.


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