Malaysia Reports First Zika Case Involving Pregnant Woman

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PUTRAJAYA, Sept 7 – Malaysia today reported its third case of Zika and the first involving a pregnant woman. The 27-year-old woman from Johor Bahru tested positive for Zika after she sought treatment for rashes, bodyaches and fever at a government hospital in Johor yesterday, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. He said the woman, who was into the third or fourth month of pregnancy, had been admitted to the hospital for treatment and counselling.

“The woman’s husband works in Singapore. The Health Ministry is awaiting the result of a test to find out whether he has been infected as well. We are trying to determine whether the woman was infected through the bite of a mosquito or sexual transmission,” he told a press conference.

The pregnant woman is the third case of Zika detected in Malaysia. The first was a 58-year-old woman from Klang who had contracted the disease in Singapore and the second was a man in Sabah. The total number of Zika cases in Singapore was confirmed to be 275 as of Sept 6.

Dr Subramaniam said the pregnant woman’s last visit to Singapore was six months ago, but her husband commuted daily to his workplace in Geylang. He said vector control measures had been implemented immediately in Johor Bahru, including in the vicinity of the woman’s house. So far, 400 houses had been inspected and 450 premises fogged.

Asked whether the woman would be allowed to undergo an abortion, Dr Subramaniam said: “We allow medical therapeutical abortion in cases if the life of the mother is threatened from the pregnancy. In the absence of that, the ministry’s current policy does not allow us to do so.”

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly or abnormal smallness of the head. The minister advised women confirmed to be Zika-infected to avoid getting pregnant and practise safe sex for at least eight weeks from the date of confirmation.

As for men confirmed to be infected, he said, they should practise safe sex or abstain for six months. Dr Subramaniam said that between Sept 1 and 6, the ministry monitoring detected 30 people with symptoms of Zika but their blood and urine tests showed up negative.

Symptoms of Zika infection include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and vomiting. Zika infection during the pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly or abnormal smallness of the head. 

The minister advised women confirmed to be Zika-infected to avoid getting pregnant and practise safe sex for at least eight weeks from the date of confirmation. As for men confirmed to be infected, he said, they should practise safe sex or abstain for six months. 

Dr Subramaniam said that between Sept 1 and 6, the ministry monitoring detected 30 people with symptoms of Zika but their blood and urine tests showed up negative. Symptoms of Zika infection include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and vomiting. He said the ministry would continue with its monitoring to address the Zika threat, particularly at the international gateways into the country.

He also said that the Cabinet, at its meeting today, decided that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi chair a Committee on Environmental Cleanliness. The committee would meet all relevant government agencies to coordinate vector-control activities in the effort to eradicate the breeding grounds of the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the Zika virus as well as the Dengue virus. — Bernama

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