45-YEAR-OLD ILOILO WOMAN FIRST THIS YEAR
HEALTH authorities on Monday announced that a woman from Iloilo had tested positive for the mosquito-borne Zika virus that causes microcephaly in newborns, the first such case recorded this year.
This brought to six the total number of cases registered in the country since 2012, Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag told reporters in a news conference.
Tayag described the first Zika case for the year as a 45-year-old female, married and not pregnant, from Iloilo province.
The virus most likely came from local transmission because the woman had no history of travel to any affected country in the past two weeks, Tayag said.
Tayag said the woman reported to doctors on August 31, and was found to have skin rashes and joint pains, but without fever.
She was confined in a local hospital where urine and blood samples were collected. The 45-year-old tested positive for Zika in both urine and blood samples.
The tests were done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine In Muntinlupa.
The woman is at home recovering from a mild illness.
Tayag said the DOH had sent a team to do follow-up tests in the area where the woman is residing.
Dr. Gundo Weiler, World Health Organization country representative, lauded the Philippines for its ability to control the virus, noting that out of 37 Western Pacific countries, the Philippines has reported only six cases since 2012.
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. Sexual transmission has been reported in other countries like Brazil and Singapore.
The Zika virus results in mild illness but has caused neurologic defects (microcephaly) in babies born of infected mothers.
The DOH has coordinated with the local officials to intensify mosquito control efforts including targeted fogging.
Tayag reminded everyone to be “good citizens” by avoiding mosquito bites and cleaning up mosquito-breeding areas.
Tayag said people, especially pregnant women, with skin rashes and with symptoms like fever, red eyes and joint pains should consult any government health facility immediately.
“The key to Zika prevention is heightened vigilance and stronger community efforts of every household,” Tayag said.
LORENZO ANTONIO MENDOZA