THE Department of Health (DOH) confirmed on Friday two more locally transmitted Zika infections, bringing to 19 the total number of such cases in the country since September.
The DOH said the two new cases, a young boy and a woman, were at home in Cavite.
To date, four regions of the country have been affected by Zika—Western Visayas, the National Capital Region or Metro Manila, Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) and Central Visayas.
The breakdown of the cases is as follows: 12 in Iloilo, two in Mandaluyong, two in Cavite, one in Muntinlupa, one in Antipolo and one in Cebu.
In a news conference held in conjunction with the First National Summit on the Zika Virus at Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said they were still unsure if one of the two new cases, a woman in her mid-40s, was pregnant or not.
All 19 cases were the result of local transmission since they have no history of travel to Zika-endemic areas prior to the onset of their illness, the DOH said.
These cases further support the earlier conclusion that Zika-causing mosquitoes are present in the country.
The DOH said laboratory tests at the government-run Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) confirmed this.
The tests were done through the use of polymerase chain reaction test kits that detect the presence of the virus in the blood and urine samples of patients.
In the same news conference, Philippine Medical Association president Dr. Ireneo Bernardo 3rd raised the need of medical practitioners for guidelines in the correct diagnosis of Zika.
Three diseases, one mosquito
Aedes aegypti is the endemic mosquito species responsible for the transmission of the Zika virus. It also transmits dengue and chikungunya.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Hubraj Yadav, medical officer of World Health Organization, said the public should not just focus on Zika because the same mosquito causes three viral diseases.
The RITM’s Dr. Socorro Lupisan said 7,000 test kits had been purchased to test patients with symptoms of Zika as well as dengue and chikungunya.
However, two samples are tested for each person—urine and blood—allowing only around 3,500 people to be tested.
The DOH had provided RITM with P16.5 million for the test kits and for materials and supply for entomology, said Lupisan.
But testing is insufficient because studies show that 80 percent of Zika cases worldwide do not show symptoms.
The limited budget permits only a fifth of all Zika cases to be tested, officials said.