Zika virus spreads rapidly in Bangkok: Expert issues urgent warning

Photo courtesy of Thai PBS World

Professor Dr Yong Poovorawan, the leading expert from the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, has sounded the alarm on the escalating Zika virus crisis in Bangkok.

In a Facebook post today, December 27, Dr Yong disclosed that the virus, primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, is running rampant through the city, with symptoms mirroring those of dengue fever, though potentially less severe.

The eminent virologist cautioned that while most cases exhibit typical symptoms such as rash, fever, joint pain, conjunctivitis, malaise, and headaches lasting two to seven days, severe complications leading to respiratory failure could occur in some individuals.

But that’s not all – Zika infections during pregnancy can result in devastating consequences, including microcephaly, congenital malformations, premature birth, and miscarriage. Moreover, the virus has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, neuropathy, and myelitis in both adults and children.

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In a bid to stem the rising tide of infections, Dr Yong advised the public, particularly children, to don light-coloured clothing, apply mosquito repellent, and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, mainly areas with stagnant water, reported Thai PBS World.

Disturbingly, the Public Health Ministry had reported a staggering 110 cases of Zika virus infections since the beginning of this year, with the numbers steadily climbing since May. Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the permanent secretary for public health, revealed that June saw the highest spike, with 30 reported cases.

Pregnancy affected by Zika

July had not fared any better, with the virus infecting six pregnant women across five provinces, posing an increased risk of miscarriages or microcephaly, a dire birth defect causing abnormally small head sizes in babies.

“The disease might pose a greater risk of miscarriages or microcephaly.”

Dr Opas underscored the urgency by disclosing that officials had closely followed up on 241 pregnant women infected with Zika between 2016 and last year, revealing four miscarriages and three cases of microcephaly, reported Bangkok Post.

This ominous trend continued with the clinical surveillance of 2,187 newborns, which identified three cases of abnormalities linked to Zika infections. Health officials have been vigilant, following up on the child development of 77 cases for two years, uncovering four cases with abnormal development, further fuelling concerns.

Expressing the gravity of the situation, Dr Opas stated that Zika infections have infiltrated pregnant women this year and have spread across all regions of the country, particularly in areas grappling with dengue fever outbreaks. He has mandated provincial health offices to conduct health screenings, especially for pregnant women displaying any Zika-related symptoms, urging health volunteers to mobilize communities in eliminating mosquito breeding grounds.

Bangkok NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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