Zika Virus Spreads in Asia

On September 5, officials in the Philippines confirmed the first case of Zika in the nation, an indication that the virus is spreading throughout much of Asia.

On September 5, officials in the Philippines confirmed the first case of Zika in the nation, an indication that the virus is spreading throughout much of Asia.

Although investigations into the Filipino case involving a woman in her 40s remain ongoing, a spokesperson for the Health Ministry there told the press that it is “highly likely” the virus has been locally transmitted—meaning, mosquitoes carrying the virus may now be active within the island nation. Some 1,000 miles away, Singapore has recently seen a surge in cases of the virus, with more than 240 cases reported through September 4. Officials there believe the virus is of the Asian strain and may have evolved from a strain that was “already circulating” in Southeast Asia.

Officials in Thailand, meanwhile, say the country is on high alert for Zika, after two women in the capital of Bangkok were diagnosed with the virus. The government has reportedly stepped up surveillance efforts to both identify new cases as well as mosquitoes carrying the virus.

News that Zika, which has to-date plagued Brazil as well as several countries in the Caribbean (not to mention the state of Florida in the United States), is now affecting multiple countries in yet another continent is hardly welcome. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), through early September, 72 countries have now reported cases of the virus, with 11 reporting evidence of person-to-person transmission. In addition, 18 countries have reported an increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a complication now associated with Zika, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, officials in Florida for the first time identified Zika-carrying mosquitoes in the state. Tests confirmed that mosquitoes found in the Miami Beach area were positive for the virus.

Brian P. Dunleavy is a medical writer and editor based in New York. His work has appeared in numerous healthcare-related publications. He is the former editor of Infectious Disease Special Edition.