SINGAPORE: Malaysia on Thursday reported its first suspected case of Zika, a 58-year-old woman believed to have contracted it in neighboring Singapore where more than 100 cases have been confirmed.
The Malaysian woman had made a brief trip in late August to visit her daughter, who has already been confirmed as having the Zika virus, Malaysia’s health ministry said in a statement.
After returning to her home near Kuala Lumpur, the woman fell ill and was diagnosed with “suspected” Zika, based on a urine test. Full confirmation via blood tests is pending.
“The source of infection is suspected to have occurred in Singapore,” the statement said.
The Aedes mosquito-borne Zika, which has been detected in 67 countries and territories including hard-hit Brazil, causes only mild symptoms for most people such as fever and a rash.
But pregnant women who catch it can give birth to babies with microcephaly, a deformation marked by abnormally small brains and heads.
Singapore authorities say 115 people have now tested positive for the virus, including a pregnant woman and 57 foreigners living and working in the city-state.
Singapore depends heavily on foreign labor, and industries like construction and the marine sector are dominated by workers from China and South Asia.
Among the foreigners infected, 23 are from China, 15 are from India and 10 from Bangladesh, the health ministry said Thursday. The rest are from Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia and Taiwan.
“All had mild illness. Most have recovered while the rest are recovering well,” the ministry said in a statement.
The city-state’s environment agency workers have been ramping up efforts to eradicate mosquitoes in a bid to curb the spread of the disease, expanding a fumigation campaign centered on the “ground zero” of the outbreak in the eastern suburb of Aljunied.
They have also turned efforts to three other areas beyond the original cluster, sending teams of inspectors round homes fumigating and checking for breeding sites.
Indonesia and Malaysia have intensified monitoring of border points for passengers arriving from Singapore, while Indonesian health official Muhammad Subuh said those arriving from the city will be given a card telling them to report to hospitals if they show Zika symptoms within 10 days of arrival.
Tropical Malaysia—which already has struggled in recent years to control the spread of Aedes-borne dengue fever—has been bracing for Zika after Singapore last weekend reported a surge in cases.
The United States and Britain have joined Australia and Taiwan in advising pregnant women to avoid non-essential travel to Singapore, while a local health expert has warned the infection rate would rise.
Despite the rise in Zika cases, a spokesman for the Singapore Grand Prix told Agence France-Presse Wednesday the Formula One race will go on as scheduled from September 16-18. AFP