Malaysia takes preparatory measures against Zika virus

File picture shows a health worker carries out fumigation as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the seafront in Panama City, February 2, 2016. — Reuters pic
File picture shows a health worker carries out fumigation as part of preventive measures against the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases at the seafront in Panama City, February 2, 2016. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 3 — Malaysia has taken preparatory measures against the possible outbreak of Zika virus in the country, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

“We have the facility and capacity to diagnose Zika virus. It is a symptomatic treatment. That is not a major issue,” he said in a press conference here today.

Among the preparatory steps taken to curb the spread of the Zika virus is to create a monitoring system and more effective management of health clinics and hospitals, including creating clinical surveillance for Zika cases, laboratory surveillance for the Zika virus and surveillance for ‘microcephaly’, he said.

Dr Subramaniam said there were no reported cases of Zika virus in the country based on constant surveillance carried out by the ministry.

“Until yesterday, 293 blood samples were taken from patients who showed symptoms of dengue fever but tested negative. They were also tested for Zika virus. All results were negative (for Zika),” he said.

Dr Subramaniam advised Malaysians especially women who are pregnant to postpone travelling to the 26 countries where Zika virus cases have been reported.

These countries are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Marti, Suriname, the United States Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

“Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not issued travel restrictions to these countries, we are taking precautions by advising Malaysians to postpone travel to the above listed countries.

“If forced to travel, they must take preventive measures from being bitten by Aedes mosquitoes and get immediate treatment at the nearest health facility if they have symptoms and signs such as fever, body aches, rashes and conjunctivitis after returning,” he said.

He said Zika virus can cause ‘microcephaly’ which causes babies to be born with permanent brain damage and very small heads and affect the quality of life of infants up to adults.

“However, we don’t have any drug to prevent it,” he said. — Bernama

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