New cases of Zika virus in Southeast Asia


Since the start of 2016, Thailand has found 97 new cases of the Zika virus, Singapore has found 2075, while Malaysia has reported their first three cases of Zika, one of whom was pregnant.

The number of identified Zika infections in Thailand has raised in 2016 compared to former years. Between 2012 and 2015, only five people were reported infected with the Zika virus each year.

But in the first six months of 2016, at least 97 people in Thailand have been diagnosed with the disease. And in the beginning of September 2016, new infections have been detected in Chiang Mai, Chanthaburi, Phetchabun and Bung Kan provinces.

Consul Birgit Sarah Kondrup-Palmqvist from the Danish Embassy in Bangkok, however, is not concerned. She explains that, according to the State Serum Institute of Denmark, sporadic cases of the Zika virus have occurred over the past 60 years.

“The reported cases may well be due to a heightened awareness of the Zika virus and that more people tested,” says Mrs. Kondrup-Palmqvist. She explains that up until publishing date, no birth deformities associated with the Zika virus have been found in Thailand. However, the State Serum Institute of Denmark advises all travellers to areas with mosquitoes to protect themselves against mosquito bites at all times, and that advice is passed on by the embassy.

Singapore has had 275 cases of Zika virus this year. The Embassy of Sweden in Singapore advises all Swedes living in or travelling to Singapore to follow the information and instructions on their website.

“Regarding pregnant women, they should consult their doctor before travelling to Singapore,” says Swedish Ambassador to Singapore, H.E. Mr. Håkan Jevrell, and assures that the embassy will keep track of the virus.

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus which generally leads to a mild disease but is a particular risk to pregnant women. It has been linked to microcephaly which is a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika yet, 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.

About Maria Jønsson

Maria Jønsson is a journalist trainee working at ScandAsia from 1 August 2016 till February 2017.

View all posts by Maria Jønsson

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