Microcephaly case likely linked to Zika: Vietnam

A city worker fumigates the area to control the spread of mosquitoes at a university in Bangkok.
A city worker fumigates the area to control the spread of mosquitoes at a university in Bangkok.PHOTO: REUTERS

HANOI • Vietnam's Health Ministry yesterday reported a microcephaly case that it says is likely to be the country's first linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

The case, a four-month-old baby whose mother was diagnosed with Zika when she was pregnant, was found in the central province of Dak Lak, Reuters reported yesterday.

"This is a microcephaly case with a high probability of being related to the Zika virus and also the first such case in Vietnam," the general department of preventive medicine, a department of the country's Health Ministry, said in a statement posted on its official website.

Vietnam has so far reported a total of nine cases of Zika infection. If the microcephaly case is confirmed to be linked to Zika, Vietnam would become the second South-east Asian country after Thailand to report such a case, according to Reuters.

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

In Singapore, more than 400 people have been infected with Zika. But from Oct 23 to Oct 28, only nine new cases were reported, compared with 62 infections from Sept 11 to Sept 17.

Singapore now has four Zika clusters. The first and largest one, which was in the Aljunied area and had nearly 300 cases, was closed on Oct 9 after seven weeks.

As of Sept 23, 16 pregnant women in Singapore were confirmed to have the Zika virus.

The Ministry of Health has told Channel NewsAsia that it was exploring plans to set up a national surveillance programme to monitor the development of babies born to pregnant women with Zika.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Microcephaly case likely linked to Zika: Vietnam'. Print Edition | Subscribe