Hong Kong reports first case of Zika virus

Hong Kong has confirmed its first case of Zika virus on Thursday (Aug 25).
Hong Kong has confirmed its first case of Zika virus on Thursday (Aug 25). PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG - Hong Kong confirmed its first case of Zika virus late Thursday (Aug 25) night, after a foreigner based in the city returned from the Caribbean showing symptoms of the virus.

The foreigner had travelled with two other family members to the Caribbean and stayed there from Aug 6 to 20, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health said. Authorities have not revealed her nationality and identity.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby and cause birth defects, including microcephaly where a baby’s head is smaller than expected. There is currently no vaccine for Zika.

The CHP said the woman alleged she had been stung by a mosquito at the Caribbean, not in Hong Kong.

Symptoms surfaced last Saturday (Aug 20) in the 38-year-old when she felt sick with arthritis and redness in her eyes. She arrived in Hong Kong on Monday (Aug 22) and visited a doctor on Tuesday (Aug 23). This was followed by a blood test on Wednesday (Aug 24). Doctor confirmed on Thursday (Aug 25) she has been infected with the Zika virus. The patient is now isolated in a mosquito-free hospital.

The CHP said after the woman returned to Hong Kong, she has been to work at the Central district and travelled to the New Territories.

Her family members have not shown any symptoms.

Health authorities also said they will follow up on her case and monitor closely the places she has been to.

According to the World Health Organisation, people infected with Zika can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for two to seven days.

joycel@sph.com.sg