Malacañang on Monday assured the public that there is no Zika virus epidemic in the country and there is no reason to panic.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. issued the statement after an American woman who visited the country in January tested positive for the Zika virus upon returning home.
Coloma said the government, through the Department of Health (DOH), is ready to ensure the safety of citizens against the virus.
“[Health] Secretary [Janet] Garin has pointed out this is a single case and that there is no epidemic and no outbreak,” he told reporters in a text message.
“Most important, the DOH is prepared in terms of detection, isolation and treatment of those who could possibly be infected by the virus. Hence, the public should stay alert, informed and calm,” Coloma said.
The “non-pregnant US resident” was the Philippines’ second laboratory-confirmed case of the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to microcephaly, a severe brain defect in infants, and to a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré syndrome.
The country had its first reported case of Zika virus infection in 2012–a 15-year-old boy in Cebu who had no travel history.
Zika viral disease is characterized by fever, rash, conjunctivitis, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and vomiting.
Although most infected individuals are asymptomatic or do not manifest any symptom, patients still have the capability of transmitting the infection.
The Zika virus is usually transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya.
There were also reports that the virus could be transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusion.
According to the World Health Organization, 55 countries and territories so far have reported local Zika transmission.