The government of Hong Kong has reported its first ever case of a Zika virus infection, yesterday, August 25.
"The patient is a 38-year-old woman with good past health. She has developed joint pain and red eyes since August 20," according to a statement from Hong Kong's Department of Health. She sought help at the Matilda Medical Center as an outpatient. However, her blood and urine samples tested positive for the virus and the Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection was immediately informed. A family member whom she traveled with with showed no symptoms of the mosquito-borne illness.
According to the South Morning China Post, the woman is in a stable condition and quarantined at the United Christian Hospital. The official investigation reveals she's a foreigner who lives at Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O and works at the International Finance Center. She had traveled to the island of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean on August 6 to 20 and returned to Hong Kong on August 22. Hong Kong local news site The Standard reports that upon her return in Hong Kong, she visited Clearwater Bay and other urban areas, including Hong Kong Central where she works. The government says it will conduct an anti-mosquito operation at these places.
Leung Ting-hung, controller of the Centre for Health Protection of Hong Kong's Department of Health, said the government will report the case to the World Health Organization (WHO). "We have also stepped up measures on mosquito control in all facilities. Education on prevention of the Zika virus will also be reinforced to our patients, staff and visitors," he added. Health officials urged its citizens to adopt a strict anti-mosquito measures and practice safe sex.
University of Hong Kong microbiologist Ho Pak-leung advised residents of Tseung Kwan O, especially pregnant women, to apply mosquito repellents in the coming three weeks to protect themselves from possible infection as the incubation of the virus in mosquitoes is four to six days. He added that it will be "most effective to stop the spread of the disease from mosquitoes to humans if authorities tried the best to kill the mosquitoes where the patient lives and works today."
A previous news report said Hong Kong is ready to test and treat the 1,500 citizens and athletes returning from the Rio Olympics. Symptoms of the virus are usually mild and does not require hospitalization admission. These include mild fever, conjunctivitis, pain behind the eyes, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rashes. Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man stresses that suspected cases need to be tested to confirm if the virus is present in their system.
The Zika virus has been considered a global health emergency after its alarming spread in Latin America and the Caribbean countries. The mosquito-borne virus--which can also be transferred from person to person via sexual activity--has been proven to be directly linked to babies born with microcephaly, a serious birth defect manifesting an underdeveloped brain and a unusually small head. Ongoing studies are also associating it with joint deformities in newborns.
Currently, there is no known cure for Zika. Pharmaceutical companies are now conducting clinical trials to find a vaccine. The Philippines Department of Health had previously asked women of child-bearing age to delay getting pregnant until more is known about the disease.