Zika virus found, but no outbreak
Patient recovers, airport screening gets boost
Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital confirmed Tuesday it had recently treated a patient infected with the Zika virus while the Public Health Ministry assured the public the Zika virus is nothing new as a few non-severe cases have been reported in Thailand every year since 2012.
The new Zika virus-infected patient was a man in his 20s admitted to the hospital on Jan 24 with fever, a rash, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and joint and muscular pain, said AVM Santi Srisermphok, director of the hospital.
A blood test showed the patient had the virus although he denied having travelled to countries considered Zika-virus outbreak zones, said AVM Santi.
After recovering, the patient was discharged from hospital, he said, adding the hospital has been implementing Zika virus infection surveillance measures.
The Public Health Ministry, meanwhile, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday declared a public health emergency advising all parties to implement Zika virus infection surveillance measures and prepare for a possible spread of the virus, said Amnuay Kajina, director-general of the Department of Disease Control.
As part of its Zika surveillance measures, the ministry was working with the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to better screen pregnant women showing signs of Zika virus infection such as a fever and rash, said Dr Amnuay.
Zika virus infection in pregnant women can lead to microcephaly, or abnormal smallness of a baby's head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.
At the same time, the ministry announced that every Zika virus infection must be strictly reported to the department.
The public should not panic about Zika virus infection because Thailand didn't have a Zika virus outbreak and only about five cases of the virus were reported each year.
The first confirmed case was reported here in 2012.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, which are not severe and normally last a couple of days to a week, he said.
Virologist Prasert Thongcharoen said hospital laboratories need more resources so they can accurately detect Zika virus infection.
The symptoms appear similar to those of dengue fever. Blood tests pay a crucial role in helping distinguish the Zika virus from other diseases.
Eradicating sources of common house mosquitoes would help fight the virus.
Along with this measure, tougher screening of passengers at airports is likely for travellers who arrive from countries affected by a Zika virus outbreak, he said.
Kyodo news agency adds:
Thailand's action follows the World Health Organisation's declaration Monday that the Zika virus is a "global public health emergency". The WHO hopes to promote prevention worldwide.
Zika is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, the same insect that spreads dengue and chikungunya.
The virus has become extremely prevalent in Latin America in recent weeks, with measures being taken there to combat it.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are mild fever and skin rash, usually accompanied by muscle or joint pain, and general malaise that begins two to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
Generally, people infected with the virus will recover within two to seven days.