Vietnam put on higher alert after first Zika virus cases

By    April 5, 2016 | 11:30 pm PT
Two Vietnamese women have tested positive for the Zika virus, health authorities said on Tuesday, adding that mosquitoes were highly likely to be the source of infection, putting the country's health sector on higher alert.

The two victims are the first confirmed cases of the virus in the Southeast Asia country.

At least three rounds of tests have confirmed that a 64-year-old woman living in the beach city of Nha Trang in the southern province of Khanh Hoa and a pregnant 33-year-old in a central district of Ho Chi Minh City are positive for the Zika virus, health officials said.

The two infected women are in stable condition.

No further infections have been reported among individuals who come into contact with the infected including their relatives, neighbors and co-workers, according to the health ministry.

The younger of the patients, named Thuy, is eight weeks pregnant.

She went to hospital complaining of morning sickness, scarlet fever, conjunctivitis and fatigue late March and tested Zika-virus last Thursday.

Thuy’s husband, working in Malaysia, is said to have returned home in middle of March but has shown no symptoms identical to those linked to the Zika virus while her 2-year-old daughter suffered from dengue fever a week ago.

Health official have quarantined the living areas of the patient's family and taken samples from residents living within 200 meter radius of the patient's house for further tests, said deputy health minister Nguyen Thanh Long.

Thuy came back to work earlier this week right after being discharged from hospital, which has raised concerns over the safety of 1,200 people working in the same office building with her.

However, the Zika virus does not spread through respiratory infection but is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, said Phan Thanh Phuoc, head of District 2 center of preventive medicine, pointing out that Thuy would not put the community at risk of infection since her incubation period was over.

Vietnam has tested about 1,200 samples of medical waste from several areas nationwide and these are the first and only cases confirmed positive for the Zika virus, said Dr. Tran Dac Phu, head of the General Department of Preventive Medicine under the Health Ministry.

The Zika virus is linked to thousands of suspected cases of mircocephaly or small head syndrome in Brazil, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Zika has been endemic in Asia, with infection cases confirmed in South Korea, China, Thailand and Laos.

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

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