KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Malaysia confirmed today the first case of the Zika virus infection in the country involving a Selangor woman who had visited Singapore.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the first confirmed case of Zika in the country involved the woman who had returned from Singapore with her husband on August 21 after a three-day visit to their adult daughter there.
“This patient is a 58 years-old woman residing in Bandar Botanic, Klang, Selangor and is the mother of a female confirmed with Zika infection in Singapore,” he said in a statement today, noting that the ministry received report of this first-ever case yesterday.
According to Subramaniam, the doctor at a private clinic had on August 30 diagnosed this patient as a “suspected case of Zika” after she sought medical attention for her rashes since August 28 — one of the symptoms of Zika.
The diagnosis was also due to her recent travel to Singapore and her daughter being confirmed as having Zika virus infection on August 30.
The woman tested positive for Zika virus based on the result yesterday of her urine test while her blood test result is still pending, he said.
“The source of infection is suspected to occur in Singapore since the patient had started experiencing signs of Zika infection on the same day with her daughter in Singapore,” he said, adding that the patient’s husband and family members residing in the same house have not shown any symptoms yet.
“Based on the findings from the investigation, the MOH has already started vector control activities in the residential area of the case and other places that the patient had visited,” he said, referring to several areas in the Klang district and capital city Kuala Lumpur which she had been to during the August 21-28 period.
The control activities carried out by the ministry include eliminating Aedes breeding sites, larviciding and fogging, while those who have close contacts with the patient will be checked for symptoms of Zika infection.
“From the first reported case of Zika, we can conclude that it is rather easy to get infected by the virus when visiting places that has outbreak, including Singapore,” he said, urging those who had visited such countries to seek immediate medical help if they experience symptoms such as fever, rash and conjunctivitis.
He said information from the Ministry of Health Singapore showed that five Malaysians living and working in Singapore have confirmed Zika infections, with 115 confirmed Zika cases reported there during the August 27-August 31 period.
In a press conference this morning, Subramaniam also said that those who wish to conceive and are concerned about the risks that Zika can pose to their babies can seek advice from their doctors, while also noting that the Zika virus can be spread through sexual intercourse for up to two months and six months respectively in cases involving infected women and men.
He called on all Malaysians to help curb the spread of Zika virus by cleaning up the breeding places of the Aedes mosquitoes — which also carries the dengue and chikungunya viruses.
“The ministry alone cannot control, neither can the local authorities; every Malaysian, every household has to play their role, because mosquitoes breed within your homes, it breeds around your houses, in the gutters of your houses.
“Everybody has to play their role. If we don’t play our role, then we will have to probably end up managing this problem for a long time,” he said in the press conference that was also streamed live on the Health Ministry’s official Facebook page.