Thailand Confirms Two Zika-Linked Cases, First in Southeast Asia

تم نشره في Sat 1 October / Oct 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Thailand has reported almost 350 cases of Zika since January - (Euro Photopress Agency)

CAPITALS — Thai health officials have confirmed two cases of microcephaly, a severe birth defect linked to the Zika virus. It is the first time in South East Asia that the disease has been linked to the condition, which causes abnormally small brains and heads.

Several countries in the region have reported Zika cases. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito which also spreads dengue and chikungunya.

The current outbreak of the disease was first detected in Brazil last year.

Cases have recently been reported across South East Asia.

The WHO said these were first cases of Zika-linked microcephaly in South East Asia.

Thailand has confirmed about 350 cases of Zika since January - including 25 pregnant women - one of the highest numbers in the region.

What is Zika?

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency, an infection that has been linked to thousands of babies born with underdeveloped brains.

Some areas have declared a state of emergency, doctors have described it as "a pandemic in progress" and some are even advising women in affected countries to delay getting pregnant.

Microcephaly - (BBC)

What are the symptoms of Zika?

Deaths are rare and only one-in-five people infected is thought to develop symptoms.

These include:

·         mild fever

·         conjunctivitis (red, sore eyes)

·         headache

·         joint pain

·         rash

A rare nervous system disorder, Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis has been linked to the infection.

There is no vaccine or drug treatment so patients are advised to rest and drink plenty of fluids.

But the biggest concern is the impact it could have on babies developing in the womb and the surge in microcephaly; which is when a baby is born with an abnormally small head, as their brain has not developed properly.

The severity varies, but it can be deadly if the brain is so underdeveloped that it cannot regulate the functions vital to life.

Children that do survive face intellectual disability and development delays.

It can be caused by infections such as rubella, substance abuse during pregnancy or genetic abnormalities.

The WHO says there is "scientific consensus" that Zika causes microcephaly as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Some babies who died had the virus in their brain and it has been detected in placenta and amniotic fluid too.

It was first identified in monkeys in Uganda in 1947.

Zika-related incidents - (BBC)

The first human case was detected in Nigeria in 1954 and there have been further outbreaks in Africa, South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.

(BBC)

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