“This is a sen­si­ti­ve mat­ter for Thai­land”

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

THAI­LAND - Thai­land is in­ves­ti­ga­ting four sus­pec­ted ca­ses of Zi­ka-re­la­ted mi­cro­cep­ha­ly in three ba­bies and a 36-week old un­born ba­by, the pu­blic he­alth mi­nis­ter has said, in what could be the first such ca­ses in south-east Asia. Se­ve­r­al coun­tries in the re­gi­on ha­ve re­por­ted ca­ses of in­fec­ti­on from the mosquitob­or­ne Zi­ka vi­rus. Thai­land has one of the hig­hest num­bers, with 349 con­fir­med sin­ce Ja­nu­a­ry, in­clu­ding 25 preg­nant wo­men. The pu­blic he­alth mi­nis­ter, Piya­sa­k­on Sa­kolsa­taya­dorn, said aut­ho­ri­ties nee­ded to be tho­rough in in­ves­ti­ga­ting the ca­ses as con­fir­ma­ti­on would be “sen­si­ti­ve”. “The lab re­sults will ta­ke at least two days be­cau­se we ha­ve to be tho­rough with this as it is a big deal and a link hasn’t been de­tec­ted be­fo­re,” Piya­sa­k­on said. “This is a sen­si­ti­ve mat­ter for Thai­land.” US he­alth of­fi­ci­als ha­ve con­clu­ded that Zi­ka in­fec­ti­ons in preg­nant wo­men can cau­se mi­cro­cep­ha­ly, a birth de­fect mar­ked by small head si­ze that can lead to se­ve­re de­vel­op­men­tal pro­blems in ba­bies. Piya­sa­k­on said the three ba­bies we­re born with small heads and an ul­tra­sound ap­pe­a­red to in­di­ca­te the un­born ba­by had the sa­me is­sue. Of the four mo­thers, two we­re dia­gno­sed with Zi­ka when they we­re preg­nant but the in­fec­ti­on had not been con­fir­med in the other two, said Api­chai Mong­kol, di­rector­ge­ne­ral of the mi­ni­stry’s me­di­cal scien­ces de­part­ment. If a Thai ca­se we­re con­fir­med, it would be the first ca­se of Zi­ka-lin­ked mi­cro­cep­ha­ly in south-east Asia, the World He­alth Or­ga­ni­za­ti­on (WHO) said in a sta­te­ment to Reu­ters. The con­nec­ti­on bet­ween Zi­ka and mi­cro­cep­ha­ly first ca­me to light last year in Bra­zil, which has mo­re than 1,600 ca­ses of mi­cro­cep­ha­ly that it con­si­ders to be re­la­ted to Zi­ka in­fec­ti­ons in the mo­thers. So­me he­alth ex­perts ha­ve ac­cu­sed Thai­land, which has a thriving tou­rist in­du­stry, of playing down the risk from Zi­ka. But of­fi­ci­als dis­miss this, saying the res­pon­se has been ade­qua­te and that ano­ther mosqui­to-bor­ne di­sea­se, den­gue, which can be dead­ly, is a big­ger th­re­at. The di­rector­ge­ne­ral of Thai­land’s di­sea­se control de­part­ment, Am­nu­ay Gaj­ee­na, said the four ca­ses we­re being mo­ni­to­red but he de­cli­ned to say exact­ly whe­re they we­re sus­pec­ted of con­trac­ting the vi­rus. “It is not in Bang­kok,” Am­nu­ay said. “Both the mo­thers and ba­bies are being tested and we ha­ve sent the tests to se­ve­r­al labs.” The­re are no spe­ci­fic tests to de­ter­mi­ne if a ba­by will be born with mi­cro­cep­ha­ly, but ul­tra­sound scans in the third tri­mes­ter can iden­ti­fy the pro­blem, ac­cor­ding to the WHO.

(reu­ters)

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