Thais report 21 new Zika cases

Bangkok’s BTS in Sathorn. Source: Flickr

Thailand has reported 21 fresh Zika infections in an affluent area of central Bangkok popular with foreigners.

“Of the 21 cases confirmed in the Sathorn area, there was one pregnant woman who recovered and gave birth successfully,” Thailand’s Health Ministry said.

“Mother and newborn are safe,” the spokesperson said, adding that her husband had recently returned from Singapore.

Zika during pregnancy can result in brain malformations in newborns and is associated with infants with tiny skulls.

The virus was initially reported in Thailand in 2012, and the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority says it has been conducting screening tests on residents ever since.

Sixteen out of the Thai 76 provinces have confirmed cases of Zika since January, the ministry said.

“There have been no deaths or complications so far, so I urge our brothers and sisters not to be alarmed,” said Ministry of Public Health spokesman Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai.

Microcephaly was normally detected during ultrasounds in the second and early third trimester of pregnancy, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

There have been no reports of birth defects or deaths caused by the virus, and the Health Ministry called on Bangkok residents not to panic.

Malaysia has confirmed its first Zika case in a pregnant woman: she is 27 and lives near Singapore.

Singapore had reported its first domestically infected Zika case on August 27 with the number now in excess of 300.

Eight pregnant women had been infected by Zika among the 329 cases in Singapore, its government said.

The World Health Organisation warned about the aggressive spread of Zika earlier in September.

David Heymann, who leads the organisation’s emergency Zika committee, said on September 2 that the epidemic was at an emergency level.

The epidemiologist warned that the virus was spreading globally. It has been reported 72 countries and entities.

The Zika virus was first identified in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, after coming from monkeys.

In Brazil an estimated 1.5 million people have been infected and more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly were reported between October last year and January.

There is no vaccine for Zika and moves to stamp out mosquitos using insecticides have killed the vital honey bee.