Science

Philippines Confirms Six New Zika Virus Cases: Here Are Public Health Updates

By Angela Laguipo , Sep 20, 2016 02:32 PM EDT

The dreaded Zika Virus, which started in Brazil last year, has spurred panic among Asians as the number of cases continue to rise. In the Philippines, six new cases have been confirmed by health officials, bringing the total number to nine.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the patients are 9 years old to 49 years old, where four are from Iloilo City and the other two are from Cebu City and Laguna. DOH spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag confirmed that the new cases had no history of travel to other countries over the last month, before the symptoms of the disease emerged.

"All exhibited skin rashes accompanied by joint pains, or fever or conjunctivitis, but they are expected to have recovered by this time," Dr. Tayag said, adding that the patients acquired the infection through mosquito bites from the Aedes aegypti species, the one responsible for dengue fever.

In the Philippines, dengue fever is an all-year round disease, causing widespread outbreaks in various provinces. Though dengue fever is deemed more serious and life-threatening than Zika virus infection, the latter has been linked to birth defects among infants of pregnant mothers infected with the virus.

"We have not recommended pregnant women not to visit Iloilo City. What we have recommended is for pregnant women to ask doctors any instructions regarding their pregnancy, especially those living in affected areas," Dr. Tayag added.

New Public Health Updates About Zika

The Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, neighboring countries and even in Asia, has spread uncontrollably because of the need for knowledge about the disease. Many individuals are still unaware of this disease and how to prevent it.

There is still a need for mosquito control and public health education among residents especially those living in rural areas. In most cases, infected people become asymptomatic, meaning they do not show signs of the infection. Hence, it's harder for health practitioners to stem the spread of the infection. Mostly, hospitalization of infected patients may not be cost-effective since those who do not display the symptoms might spread the virus just the same.

However, isolation of infected individuals from mosquito bites may help reduce the risk of virus spread.

How To Prevent The Zika Virus

The first and most important measure to perform in order to prevent Zika virus infection is avoiding mosquito bites. Pregnant women are at most risk for the infection since their unborn babies may acquire microcephaly, a birth defect that may cause neurological problems and abnormally small heads.

Thus, health officials are reminding everyone to use insect repellants. For pregnant women, there are safe lotions or sprays they can use. Furthermore, citizens are reminded to always clean their surroundings especially areas which can be good breeding sites for mosquitoes such as stagnant water and drainages.

Residents, especially those living in affected areas, are reminded to seek medical help if they feel any of the symptoms of Zika virus infection. Symptoms include pain in areas like in the back of the eyes, joints, and muscles, fatigue, fever, chills, loss of appetite, eye redness, headache, skin rash and vomiting.

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