• DOH confirms 6 new Zika cases

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    Six new Zika virus cases were confirmed by the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday.

    The DOH said four of the patients are from Iloilo City, while the two others are from Laguna and Cebu City.
    This brought to nine the total number of locally transmitted Zika virus cases, where the patients are between 9 and 49 years old.

    Six out of the nine patients are women.

    The six new patients had no history of travel to other countries within a month preceding the onset of illness, according to DOH spokesman Eric Tayag.

    Tayag read from a statement made by Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial, who is in China for a meeting and heading to New York for another meeting.

    He said Ubial has sent quick response teams to gather more information about the new cases and to show support to affected areas in their drive against the Zika virus.

    At present, the DOH said, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine can carry out tests for over 1,000 suspected cases.

    The Health department itself has ample supply of mosquito nets and insecticides that are available for distribution to local government units.

    It focuses its efforts to prevent and control spread of the virus through the 4S strategy: Search and destroy mosquito breeding sites; Self-protection measures like using insect repellent and mosquito nets especially at day time, as well as use of condom for protection against this sexually transmitted infection; Seek early consultation for skin rashes, fever, joint pains or red eyes; and Say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak.

    Contracting the virus through mosquito bites, patients exhibited skin rashes and suffered from joint pains but they are expected to have recovered at this writing.

    Tayag said initial information showed that the four new cases in Iloilo City were not connected to Zika virus cases in areas where they were earlier reported to have occurred because these areas are more than 10 kilometers apart.

    The Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus or tiger mosquitoes, species that are found in sub-tropical tropical and tropical regions like the Philippines.

    It is blamed for causing microcephaly, which is characterized by unusually enlarged heads in babies, and other birth defects.

    Tayag earlier said they have not recommended any travel restriction to Iloilo City, even for pregnant women.
    He added that they did recommended that pregnant women ask their doctors for any instructions about their pregnancy.

    Iloilo City, the DOH spokesman said, can be declared Zika virus-free if no new case is reported in the next 45 days.

    Gundo Weiler, World Health Organization representative in the Philippines, said the rise in the number of cases only means the Health department is proactively testing for the Zika virus.

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