Sus­pected Zika case comes back neg­a­tive

The Myanmar Times - - News - MYINT KAY THI my­in­tkaythi@mm­times.com

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”.

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