Health dept confirms Zika cases now at 39

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) reported Monday that the number of Zika cases in the country has risen to 39 after the confirmation of four new cases.

According to the department, one woman from Biñan, Laguna who is five months pregnant, one from Mandaluyong City and two from Iloilo City have caught the Zika virus.

Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial put at three the total number of pregnant women who have contracted Zika.

The first pregnant case was a 22-year-old woman from Cebu who was detected with Zika during her 19th week of pregnancy last Sept., and the second was a 16-year-old in Las Piñas who was on her 32nd week of her pregnancy last November.

According to DOH spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag, these women will be monitored during the entire course of their pregnancy and even up to two years after giving birth.

Tayag added that there is also a good indication that their babies will not possibly develop any congenital abnormality associated with Zika, such as microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected.

He explained that based on reports, congenital abnormalities in babies occur when the mothers get the virus during the first trimester of their pregnancy.

“Note that all of them got Zika after the first trimester period, so there is a good probability that their babies will not be affected,” he said, noting however that they have also received reports from Brazil that congenital abnormalities could occur at any stage, even a year after the baby is born, hence the need for continuous monitoring.

The other Zika cases were detected in Bacoor, Cavite; Antipolo City; Las Piñas; Muntinlupa; Quezon City; Makati; Caloocan; and Manila.

The DOH again took the opportunity to call on the public to clean their environment to get rid of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that carries the viruses that cause Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

The department recommended the 4S strategy — searching and destroying mosquito-breeding places; using self-protection measures; seeking early consultation for fever lasting more than two days; and saying no to indiscriminate fogging. Leilani Junio/PNA-northboundasia.com