MALAYSIA yesterday reported its first case of Zika infection in a pregnant woman, whose husband works in Singapore.
The 27-year-old Chinese patient is three to four months pregnant and lives in Johor Baru, said Minister of Health Subramaniam Sathasivam.
But he could not say definitively if she contracted the virus from her husband who commutes to Singapore daily for work, or through local transmission, as results of tests done on the husband are not out yet.
“She showed signs and symptoms before the husband. She was tested earlier and found positive,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam advised people with spouses who have been infected with the Zika virus to avoid sex or take precautions to avoid pregnancy for at least six months.
He said the health ministry will hospitalise all pregnant Zika patients who will be treated by specialists.
Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly in the foetus, a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized, besides other brain abnormalities.
The health minister also clarified that Malaysia is not spraying in-coming vehicles at the land checkpoints with disinfectant and insect repellent as a safety precaution. Instead, the authorities are asking that drivers spray their vehicles before entering Malaysia.
But he acknowledged that it is impossible for enforcement officers to ensure that all vehicles are sprayed.
Dr Subramaniam said given the close proximity of Johor Baru to Singapore, the increasing number of Zika cases in Malaysia is to be expected.
Aedes control measures have been increased in Johor Baru and around the house of the patient, he added.
This is Malaysia’s third confirmed Zika infection, after one case in Klang, Selangor and another in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah last week.
In Singapore, eight new Zika cases were confirmed as of noon yesterday, based on figures from the Health Ministry.
One new potential cluster was detected – the Elite Terrace area in Siglap.
This brings the total number of locally transmitted cases in Singapore to 283.