Thailand has been pinpointed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as a ‘red alert’ country for the increasing transmission of the Zika virus.
97 cases were reported between January and June of this year: a startling increase on the average 5 reported annually between 2012 and 2015. This last week has seen new cases in Chiang Mai, Phetchabun, Chanthaburi and Bung Kan provinces, reports The Nation.
Zika, a disease spread through mosquito bites and also sexually, is currently the subject of a public health emergency declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A 2015 outbreak in Brazil spread quickly to other countries in South and then North America and is still ongoing. Closer to home, Singapore has also just confirmed over 100 cases of Zika infections and have identified further clusters where future transmission is likely.
While infection is usually not serious and won’t even present symptoms in some cases, severe cases can lead to Guillain-Barré Syndrome — paralysis — and can cause birth defects, like microcephaly, in babies born to pregnant women infected with Zika.
Approximately 20% of Zika infections lead to Zika fever, likely to cause a rash and accompanying fever, although symptoms should clear within a few days.
Thai officials are, true to form, playing down the threat of Zika and remain confident that while new cases have been detected, further transmission has been safely contained.
Amnuay Gajeena, chief of the Department of Disease Control, confirmed that Thailand was following WHO’s advice on the containment of Zika and implementing various forms of surveillance — including on potential birth defects in newborns. According to The Jakarta Post, all provinces with reported cases of Zika have been advised to set up ’emergency operation centres’ to best control the disease.
Symptoms of Zika Fever:
- Joint Pain
- Red Eyes
Consult a doctor immediately if you think you may have been infected with the Zika virus.