Rising Zika virus cases alarm health officials in Phuket

Picture courtesy of Rawai Municipality

Phuket’s Provincial Health Office (PPHO) sounded the alarm over rising cases of Zika virus, particularly in Rawai, Phuket. The warning was triggered by a long-standing expatriate, expressing alarm over the increasing number of infections in the Saiyuan area.

In response to these concerns, the Rawai Municipality took swift action, testing all occupants of one house. The expatriates detailed their efforts.

“They fogged the house and surrounding areas, including a nearby kindergarten.”

The kindergarten has been identified as a potential transmission hotspot, as a family whose child attends the school confirmed at least one case of the virus.

The PPHO’s warning provided vital information about the virus. It is primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, notorious for spreading dengue fever and chikungunya. Although mosquito bites are the main cause of transmission, the virus can also be passed on through blood, such as from an infected mother to her fetus.

The warning also explained the incubation period of the Zika virus, typically ranging from four to seven days following a mosquito bite. Symptoms are usually mild and last between two to seven days, comprising fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, and headache.

Pregnant women

However, the virus poses a significant risk to pregnant women as it can lead to complications during pregnancy and could result in babies being born with microcephaly, reported The Phuket News.

The PPHO emphasised that there is currently no specific vaccine to prevent Zika fever. The recommended treatment consists of rest, increased fluid intake, and symptomatic management, such as using paracetamol for fever and pain relief.

The use of aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is strongly discouraged due to the risk of internal bleeding.

The best defence against the Zika virus is prevention from mosquito bites. The PPHO recommended the use of insecticides or ointments, sleeping under mosquito nets, and keeping doors and windows closed to prevent mosquitoes from entering homes.

The office also stressed the importance of wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and eliminating any standing water around homes to reduce mosquito breeding grounds.

The PPHO’s warning concluded with a strong recommendation for anyone displaying symptoms related to Zika, especially pregnant women, to seek immediate medical attention. Moreover, the PPHO highlighted the risk of the virus spreading to others if a mosquito bites an infected person within seven days of the onset of fever, due to the high amount of virus in the bloodstream during this period.

Phuket 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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