MERS, Zika And Dengue Hit Thailand In First Weeks Of 2016

January 2016 has already seen various infectious and tropical diseases dominate Thailand’s national health agenda, with one case apiece of MERS and Zika while the number of people in the Kingdom struck with Dengue Fever quadrupled in a week.


The UN World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned Southeast Asia to remain vigilant against MERS CoV – or Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus – after an elderly Omani man was diagnosed with the disease in Thailand last week.

“The new case of MERS CoV is a reminder of the continued risk of importation of the disease from countries where it still persists,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Southeast Asia region director for WHO.

After arriving in Bangkok on 22 January, the 71 year old tested positive for MERS at Bumrungrad International Hospital before being transferred to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute. Efforts are being made to quarantine those who he may have come into contact with in a bid to contain the virus.


  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumonia is common although not necessarily present
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea are common although not necessarily present

Zika Virus

A man from northern Thailand was hospitalised in Taiwan recently after being diagnosed with the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The 24 year old man set off temperature scanners as he arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. He had been suffering with a fever and headache before leaving Thailand although was allowed to fly out after testing negative for Dengue Fever. This sample was tested in a Taiwanese laboratory where it was found he had actually been infected by the Zika virus.


Only about one in five people infected with the Zika virus actually fall ill, according to the Straits Timesand symptoms are usually mild when they do.

The main cause for concern with Zika is the risk it is thought to pose to infants in the womb when the mother is infected.

Microcephaly – where newborns are born with smaller brains and craniums – is linked to Zika infection, and has been prevalent in Brazil where the number of microcephaly cases rose by over 350 in just 10 days, in tandem with Zika diagnoses.

  • Mild fever
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pains

There is no vaccine or cure available yet against Zika and, as with Dengue, the best form of protection is to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women, in particular, should avoid places located as actively transmitting Zika.

Dengue Fever

We have already reported on how Thailand’s Public Health Ministry expect Dengue cases to rise by over 16 percent this year to 166,000. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquito bites.


  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe joint and muscle pain


Remember to consult a doctor immediately if you think you may have any one of these diseases.



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