Lifetime immunity after infection

This file photo taken on Jan 27 shows an Aedes Aegypti mosquito being photographed in a laboratory of control of epidemiological vectors in San Salvador. PHOTO: AFP

Zika is a new infectious disease of great concern to many people, especially as not very much is known about it. AskST shares answers to some questions that people are asking about the disease.

Q Can a person get Zika many times, like we can with dengue? Or does getting infected once confer immunity?

A One infection should confer lifetime immunity against the disease, said Professor Leo Yee Sin, a senior infectious diseases consultant at the Communicable Disease Centre.

Q In that case, should young couples try to get infected so they do not get the disease when they want to raise a family?

A Prof Leo said that while this may sound logical, not enough is known about the disease to advise this course of action.

Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, said: "It would be unwise of us to tell people to go and get infected just because they might want to get pregnant (in future)."

Q Are there home kits I can use to diagnose Zika, the way diabetics use test-strips?

A No, both urine and blood must be tested in a laboratory.

Q Should all pregnant women check to see if they have been infected with Zika, even if they have no symptoms, since four in five people infected do not get sick?

A No, because the tests work only if they are carried out within a month of infection. So those infected more than a month ago would not be able to tell if they have been infected. It is better to monitor the development of the baby and to discuss it with your doctor if anomalies appear.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline Lifetime immunity after infection. Subscribe