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China records first case of Zika virus
February 10, 2016, 6:32 am

Zika infections in pregnant women have been linked to a condition known as microcephaly: infants born with undersize heads [Xinhua]

Zika infections in pregnant women have been linked to a condition known as microcephaly: infants born with undersize heads [Xinhua]

China has confirmed an imported case of Zika virus, the country’s first, in a man who has recently been to Venezuela, said the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC). World health officials are grappling with the expanding outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus that may cause birth defects when pregnant women are infected.

The Chinese patient, a 34-year-old male from Ganxian county of Jiangxi province, is now recovering with normal body temperature and fading rash, reported Chinese agency Xinhua.

He had traveled to Venezuela and showed symptoms of fever, headache and dizziness on January 28, before returning to his hometown on February 5 via Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

He has been quarantined and treated in a hospital in Ganxian since February 6.

The NHFPC said that according to evaluation by public health officials and experts, the risk of further spreading of the virus due to this imported case is extremely low owing to the winter cold in China.

Hong Kong’s Port Health Office has stepped up inspections at the airport in response and reinforced training for boundary control inspectors, the Department of Health said in a statement.

Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said authorities were monitoring the situation.

Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes, which transmit the virus, are known to have lived in Hong Kong.

Asian countries that have dengue and chikungunya are also at risk.

Thailand detected its first Zika case in 2012 and has recorded an average of five cases a year, according to the Ministry of Public Health. Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan have also reported cases of Zika in previous years.

No treatment or vaccine is available yet. Brazil and the US are experimenting using genetics to prevent the mosquito itself from carrying the disease. Experts say the use of vaccines to ward off Zika virus could take years. Sanofi Pasteur’s dengue vaccine took 20 years to develop.

The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency.

TBP and Agencies

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