DOH confirms 6th Zika case in Philippines
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A married woman from Iloilo was documented over the weekend with Zika virus, becoming the sixth case in the Philippines.

Speaking to reporters, Department of Health (DOH) spokesman Eric Tayag yesterday said a team had been dispatched to Iloilo to check if other Zika cases exist.

“If there are local transmissions, we should expect additional cases. We make sure we do not miss any case,” he said. “The only way they can  spread it to others is through sexual transmission.”

Health Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo said the patient had no history of travel abroad and she could have been infected locally.

“There is still no local transmission of cases in the country,” he said. “We cannot yet say for sure how she got infected but it is possible that this is sporadic and no other people will be infected.” 

Bayugo said a locally infected mosquito could have bitten the patient, but the infection will not be transmitted to others, just like what happened to the 15-year-old boy from Cebu who was the country’s first Zika case in 2012.

“We are hopeful that no other people will be infected,” he said. 

“I think the patient is an outpatient, but she is being monitored by health personnel.” 

In her mid-40s and married, the patient had sought treatment in a health facility in Western Visayas after she developed rashes last month. 

When her urine was examined, it tested positive for Zika virus.

Bayugo said the sample collected from the patient was re-tested here and abroad and she was confirmed to have Zika virus. 

Her husband could have also been tested by now, he added.

The Philippines had recorded its first Zika case in 2012, a 15-year-old boy from Cebu City who got the virus locally. 

Four other cases have been documented separately since, including an American, two South Koreans and the companion of one of the South Koreans.

Bayugo had reiterated the call for the public to eliminate all possible breeding sites of mosquitoes.

Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial earlier said no locally transmitted Zika case has been reported.

The public has no cause for alarm despite reported cases in Singapore and Malaysia of locally transmitted Zika virus, she added.

Ubial reported yesterday the DOH had been conducting tests on 126 symptomatic patients since January. 

“Actually, we’ve been testing people and there are no positive (cases) so far,” she said.

All 86 suspected cases last Friday tested negative for the Zika virus, she added.

Ubial said five cases – four foreigners and a Filipino – have tested positive since 2012, but that the cases “were imported.”

“We test all the people who are symptomatic that are coming into the country,” she said. “They came from endemic countries.”

Last week, Ubial said the Zika infection is mostly “self-limiting, mild and not fatal” but that it is being linked to birth defects like microcephaly, a condition characterized by small heads. – With Christina Mendez

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