Malaysia reports first Zika case in pregnant woman

Malaysia's Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam (second from left) said his ministry will hospitalise all pregnant Zika patients to be treated by specialists.
Malaysia's Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam (second from left) said his ministry will hospitalise all pregnant Zika patients to be treated by specialists.ST PHOTO: SHANNON TEOH

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia on Wednesday (Sept 7) reported its first case of Zika infection in a pregnant woman, whose husband works in Singapore.

The 27-year-old Chinese patient is 3 to 4 months pregnant and lives in Taman Desa Harmoni, Minister of Health Subramaniam Sathasivam told reporters.

But he could not say definitively if the woman contracted the virus from her husband who commutes to Singapore daily for work, or through  local transmission, as results from tests done on the husband are not out yet.

"She showed signs and symptoms before the husband. She was tested earlier and found positive," he said.

Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam advised people with spouses who have been infected with the Zika virus to avoid sex or to take precautions to avoid pregnancy for at least six months.

He said the health ministry will hospitalise all pregnant Zika patients who will be treated by specialists.

Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly in the foetus, a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized, besides other brain abnormalities.

The health minister also clarified that Malaysia is not spraying in-coming vehicles at the land checkpoints with disinfectant and insect repellent as a safety precaution. Instead, authorities are asking that drivers spray their vehicles before entering Malaysia.

But he acknowledged it's impossible for enforcement officers to ensure that all vehicles are sprayed.

Dr Subramaniam said given the close proximity of Johor Bahru to Singapore, the increasing number of Zika cases in Malaysia is to be expected. Aedes control measures have been increased in Johor Bahru and around the house of the patient, he added.

This is Malaysia's third confirmed Zika infection, after one case in Klang, Selangor and another one in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah last week.