ZIKA infection, which has already been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, can also cause hearing loss, according to Department of Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo.
“Anything is possible as long as it affects the brain, the brain stem, the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves,” said Bayugo.
“If it affected your cochlear nerve, then your hearing will be affected,” he added.
Zika is a self-limiting, mosquito-transmitted disease.
At present it has affected 19 people in the Philippines, but none have required hospitalization.
DOH spokesperson Enrique Tayag also said the department had confirmed the possibility of hearing loss from Zika infection.
“Yes. That is their findings,” said Tayag.
Aside from hearing loss, Zika has been linked to microcephaly in babies, or the abnormal smallness of the head with incomplete brain development.
Records show that it is evident in one to three percent of pregnant women infected with the Zika virus.
Only one of the 19 identified Zika victims in the Philippines is pregnant, a 22-year-old from Cebu who is pregnant with her first child.
She has not given birth yet, but ultrasound examinations showed no abnormalities in her child.
“Monitoring will still continue,” said Bayugo.
Meanwhile, Tayag said that the outside appearance and the size of a baby’s head are insufficient to detect abnormalities.
“We have information that in some cases, the head is normal (in size) but the baby becomes abnormal,”said Tayag.
Tayag said pediatricians should monitor a baby’s development through tests in hearing, eyesight and the like.