Singapore

Aljunied Crescent resident is first case of locally transmitted Zika virus

The first locally transmitted case of Zika virus has been reported.

The patient, a 47-year-old Malaysian woman working in Singapore, lives in Block 102 Aljunied Crescent, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement.

The patient had not travelled to any Zika-affected areas recently and it is likely that she was infected in Singapore.

The discovery was made after the patient developed a fever, rashes and conjunctivitis on Thursday (August 25).

After visiting a GP on Friday she was referred to the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was tested positive for Zika on Saturday (August 27).

She is under observation at the CDC and is recovering.

The statement says that with the "volume of travel by Singaporeans as well as tourists, it is inevitable that there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore".

There is also the "risk of subsequent local transmission", due to the presence of the Aedes mosquito here.

"While MOH and NEA have stepped up precautionary measures, we expect that there may be further cases, as most infected persons may display mild or no symptoms."

The patient's close contacts, including household members are being screened. MOH is also testing others in the area who have fever and rash.

There are three other suspected cases in the area pending confirmation tests.

For now, as an added precaution, all suspect cases of Zika virus infection will be isolated while awaiting confirmation of the blood test results.

All GPs around the patient's home and workplace have been alerted to be "extra vigilant".

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "MOH and NEA are working together to carry out vector control and testing of residents in that area with fever and rashes so as to reduce the risk of further spread. I encourage those who are unwell and with these symptoms to visit their doctors for medical attention. We have also alerted our clinics in the area to look out for suspect cases and refer them to the CDC for testing."

NEA has intensified operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the Aljunied Crescent area.

While Block 102 is not located in an active dengue cluster, there are two active dengue clusters nearby, each with two cases.

Residents are urged to cooperate fully with NEA officers who may inspect their premises for mosquito breeding.

Zika is generally a mild disease. It may cause a viral fever similar to dengue or chikungunya, with fever, skin rashes, body aches, and headache. But many people infected with the Zika virus infection do not even develop symptoms.

However, infection can cause microcephaly(abnormal smallness of the head) in the unborn foetuses of pregnant women.

For more information on Zika go to www.moh.gov.sg/zika

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