GEORGE TOWN, Feb 5 – No case of Zika virus infection has been reported in the country, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya. He said Malaysia was on the alert and had stepped up measures to prevent the Aedes mosquito-borne disease from spreading to the country.
“So far, we have sent almost 300 blood samples to laboratories and we have the capability to conduct tests at major hospitals. We have the laboratories capable of carrying out such tests. So far, there has been no Zika virus infection. We have to be more alert now. Unlike the MERS-Cov which causes high fever of up to 40 degrees Celsius, Zika causes only mild fever which may not be detected by our scanners at the airport,” he said.
Dr Hilmi was speaking at a press conference after launching the state-level 2016 Chinese New Year price control scheme at the Giant Supermarket in Bayan Lepas near here Thursday.Dr Hilmi was commenting on a case of Zika virus infection involving a 22-year-old man reported in Thailand on Feb 2.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The disease does not result in death but has been linked to cases of microcephaly, in which babies are born with underdeveloped brains. According to WHO, there have been around 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil alone since October last year.
So far 26 countries have reported cases of Zika virus infection, namely Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
Dr Hilmi, who is the MP for Balik Pulau, urged people who had returned from these countries to contact the health authorities if they had symptoms of the disease. He also advised the people to step up efforts in keeping their housing areas clean to prevent the breeding of the Aedes mosquito and not to rely completely on the local authorities and the Health Department.