First Vietnam's Zika virus victims infected through mosquito bites

By Nam Phuong, An Hong   April 4, 2016 | 11:11 pm PT
First Vietnam's Zika virus victims infected through mosquito bites
A researchers from the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) places a mosquito sample into a tube during research work at the Zika Forest in Entebbe, south of Uganda's capital Kampala March 2, 2016 : REUTERS/James Akena
The Health Ministry issued an initial conclusion that the first two cases of Zika virus in Vietnam was transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. 

The Health Ministry has temporarily come to conclusion that Zika virus was transmitted to the two victims “entirely through mosquitoes”, said deputy health minister Nguyen Thanh Long.

Long also instructed the health sector to keep the individuals, who had come into contact with the infected cases, under close surveillance.

No more cases of infection have been reported so far.

Tested samples of medical waste showed that the virus in the two infected cases was the same as the Zika virus strain currently circulating in some Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Laos.

The spread of the virus is increasing among countries in the region so “it comes as no surprise to detect infected cases in Vietnam,” said health experts.

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology confirmed yesterday two first known cases of the virus in Vietnam.

A 64-year-old victim living in beach city Nha Trang showed symptoms identical to those linked to the Zika virus, including a mild fever, headache, a rash on her legs and red eyes. After two days of taking medication at home that failed to reduce fever, she went to the Khanh Hoa Hospital of Tropical Diseases for a check-up and tested positive to Zika virus last Thursday at Nha Trang's Pasteur Institute.

The second confirmed case is a 32-year-old woman from the country's southern business hub Ho Chi Minh City. The two-month pregnant woman started developing symptoms of severe fever, conjunctivitis and fatigue last Tuesday and went to the district general hospital the same day. She subsequently tested positive for the Zika virus.

Both patients are in a stable condition, said health officials.

The virus is transmitted to humans by the Aedes mosquito, the main carrier of dengue fever, which has long been present in Vietnam, particularly in the south. This makes Vietnam more exposed to the risk of a Zika virus outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) suggested Vietnamese health authorities to intensify surveillance of people living in endemic areas and strengthen measures against the spread of the virus including killing mosquito larva.

“There is more evidence that Zika virus can be spread through sexual contact. We suggested couples practice safe sex methods such as using a condom, especially upon returning from those areas at the epicenter of the virus,” said a WHO representative.

The WHO announced that the Zika virus has so far been recorded in 61 countries and territories.

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