Suspected Zika case comes back negative
MYANMAR continues to have had only one confirmed case of Zika virus after test results for dozens of suspected cases have all led to negatives.
A six-year-old from Lanmadaw township was one of more than 50 patients exhibiting Zikalike symptoms who were tested by the Department of Public Health over the past month. Health officials thought the child may be the second Zika case in the country, but his test too came back negative last week.
“The results of the child from Lanmadaw township are negative [for the Zika virus]. Of the 57 suspected cases so far in Myanmar, only one person has been found to have the virus,” said Dr Aung Thu of the Department of Public Health.
Following the WHO designation of the Zika virus as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” in February this year, the Myanmar government has instructed township medical departments to make a concerted effort to identify potential Zika cases, while mosquito control efforts have been stepped up in urban areas.
Amid a growing regional outbreak of the illness, Myanmar reported its first confirmed case on October 27, a 32-year pregnant, foreign national living in Yangon. Health authorities have urged the public to remain vigilant.
“If we are able to control the mosquito population, people will be better protected from diseases such as Zika, dengue fever and the chikungunya virus. Public cooperation is needed,” said Dr Khin Nan Lon, deputy regional director of the Department of Public Health.
The Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Zika can also be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
Only one in five people who contract the flu-like disease will show any symptoms. If symptoms appear, they will typically show between two and seven days and can include mild fever, headache, joint pains, conjunctivitis, vomiting and skin rashes. While the Zika virus generally is not fatal, the disease can be particularly dangerous to pregnant women as it has been linked to cases of microcephaly, when a baby is born with a head that is smaller than expected compared with babies of the same age, and GuillainBarré Syndrome, a rare paralysisinducing auto-immune disorder.
Since September, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended pregnant women reconsider travel to Myanmar along with 10 other Southeast Asian nations.
The Department of Public Health has advised people to guard against the disease by covering, filtering and replacing water from any containers around the house to remove mosquito breeding areas.
The WHO has advised the general population, and especially pregnant women, to limit mosquito-human contact by “wearing long-sleeved, light colored clothing; using mosquito repellant; sleeping under a bed net; and fitting windows and doors with screens wherever possible”.