China confirms first imported Zika case: Xinhua

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito in a laboratory in Colombia.
An Aedes Aegypti mosquito in a laboratory in Colombia.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) – China confirmed its first imported case of Zika late on Tuesday, Xinhua reported, as fears mount over the fast-spreading virus that has been linked to severe birth defects mostly in Latin America.

Few cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been reported in Asia, but the World Health Organisation has declared a global health emergency to combat Zika as cases spread elsewhere.

Officials in China said a 34-year-old man was diagnosed with the virus after he returned from Venezuela on Jan 28 and reported a fever, headache and dizziness, according to Xinhua news agency citing health officials.

The man, from Ganxian county in the southeast province of Jiangxi, is now recovering with a normal body temperature and fading rash, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission cited on Xinhua.

He had travelled home via Hong Kong and Shenzhen and has been quarantined and treated in a Ganxian hospital since Feb 6.

The health commission said he posed an extremely low risk of spreading the virus, the news agency added.

The disease starts with a mosquito bite and normally causes little more than a fever and rash.

Zika has, however, been linked to a surge in the number of children in Latin America born with microcephaly – abnormally small heads and brains.

So far, 26 countries have confirmed cases of the virus, and dozens of Europeans and North Americans returning from Zika-affected areas have also tested positive for the virus.

Brazil has been hardest hit by the outbreak with more than 20,000 cases, including over 2,000 pregnant women.

Thailand and Indonesia have reported one case each, but health experts have warned some Asian nations are vulnerable to a Zika outbreak.

Health authorities have said Zika could infect up to four million people in Latin America and spread worldwide.