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PH downplays Zika fears despite WHO category 2 classification

PH downplays Zika fears despite WHO category 2 classification

MANILA: There is still no locally transmitted Zika virus infection in the Philippines even as the World Health Organization (WHO) included the Philippines under category 2, the country’s Department of Health (DOH) has said.

DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial was quoted as saying by Manila Bulletin that there is no need for the public to be alarmed and explained that the WHO classification only means that there Zika virus patients in the country but they are not local viral transmissions.

So far this year, the DOH said five Zika patients have been reported in the country, four tourists and a Filipino national. Eighty-six others tested negative of the virus, the report said.

“Wala po tayong local transmission. The five are what we call imported cases. They were infected in endemic countries,” she reportedly said.

A stricter, more thorough monitoring of passengers entering different air and sea ports in the country is being implemented, particularly those from five neighboring Asian countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, Bureau of Quarantine Director Ferchito Avelino was quoted as saying.

Singapore was recently gripped by the Zika virus scourge with at least 151 locally transmitted cases.

“So far wala pang nirereport na Filipinos affected [by the virus]. Most are from the local population and some are tourists,” she was quoted as saying by Manila Bulletin.

The Centers for Disease Control reportedly said that a Aedes aegypti mosquito can spread the virus if it bites a Zika virus – infected individual and subsequently bites another individual.

Zika virus, a vector-borne disease which is caused by a flavivirus, is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti; the same mosquito that causes dengue fever. Patients infected with Zika virus usually experience mild fever, rashes, joint pains, conjunctivitis and pain behind the eyes, the report pointed out.

Expectant mothers, however, must take extra precautions since Zika virus infection is associated with microcephaly, a physical and neurological birth defect, said the news portal.

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