Vietnam on higher alert for potential Zika virus outbreak

By    March 30, 2016 | 10:55 pm PT
Vietnam on higher alert for potential Zika virus outbreak
The health sector has been placed on high alert for Zika virus after an Australian was confirmed as having the virus upon returning from Vietnam, said the Ministry of Health.

Vietnam has tested about 800 samples of medical waste from several areas nationwide but no cases of infection have been reported.

No cases of Zika infection have been reported in Vietnam so far, but the country is expanding surveillance as the global epidemic becomes more serious.

The virus is rapidly spreading across several countries in Asia, and there have been confirmed cases in Laos, Cambodia, China and Thailand, said health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien.

Zika 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 minister has requested health authorities at all levels stay on alert, intensifying measures against the spread of the virus and strengthening surveillance of people coming from countries such as Brazil and Colombia which are at the epicenter of the virus.

“Whether it is to curb the spread of the Zika virus or dengue fever, what we can do is take prevention measures such as killing mosquito larva, turning water containers upside down and throwing a few guppy or gold fish into the water to eat mosquito larvae,” said the health minister.

“The Zika virus outbreak has been recorded many countries, including some in the Asia Pacific region. So there is high risk of the virus spreading across the country. And 80 percent of infected cases show very mild symptoms, which makes early prevention and detection more difficult,” said Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Health Ministry.

Last week, the Vietnamese the health sector was put on a state of alert after the Australian government confirmed that one of its citizens had contracted the Zika virus upon his return from Vietnam.

According to the announcement, the victim arrived in Vietnam on February 26 and returned to Australia on March 6. The suspected case showed symptoms identical to those linked to the Zika virus, including fever, rash, headache, conjunctivitis, muscular and joint pain, red eyes and nausea. While in Vietnam, the victim travelled to Ho Chi Minh City, the central highland province of Lam Dong, the central province of Khanh Hoa and the south-central province of Binh Thuan.

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