At least 23 people have been infected with the Zika virus in Vietnam,
including 17 confirmed cases in Ho Chi Minh City.
At least 23 people have been infected with the Zika virus in Vietnam, including 17 confirmed cases in Ho Chi Minh City, according to a new report from the leading epidemiology center Pasteur Institute.
The new figure is astonishing, considering that the city had earlier confirmed only five cases. It declared a pandemic state of the mosquito-borne disease in October.
Vietnam reported the first Zika cases, also in HCMC, in April. There have been six other infections in the neighboring Binh Duong, Long An and Tra Vinh Provinces in the Mekong Delta, and Dak Lak, Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen in the central region.
Tran Dac Phu, director of the Preventive Health Department under the health ministry, said HCMC has high risk of infection given its large population, which is around 12 million including migrants.
There is a lot of mobility around the city while “the hygiene is not very good,” Phu said.
He said the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a vector species for the Zika virus that also carries dengue and yellow fever, has increased significantly in the city.
The department on Sunday officially linked the first case of microcephaly to Zika, a four-month-old girl in Dak Lak. Her mother reportedly contracted the virus during the pregnancy.
Health officials said people, either men or women, should avoid mosquito bites and traveling to places with Zika epidemic if they plan to have children.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that women wait at least eight weeks after a possible exposure to the Zika virus before becoming pregnant. Men should wait six months.
According to the World Health Organization, Zika outbreaks are occuring in around 70 countries and territories.
There have been more than 2,000 babies born with Zika-related microcephaly or other birth defects around the world, according to the latest WHO report. Brazil has reported over 1,800 cases of Zika-related microcephaly; the U.S. has reported 23.
The birth defect appears in 1-10 percent of babies whose mothers contract the Zika virus during the first trimester. Thailand reported two cases of microcephaly linked to the virus in late September, which were the first cases in Southeast Asia.