The country's first case of a pregnant woman infected with the Zika virus has now been recorded over the weekend in the Cebu province.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the patient is a 22-year-old woman who is 19 weeks pregnant. Fortunately, there have been no obvious effects found on her unborn child, DOH Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in an Inquirer.net report.
“We conducted an initial ultrasound test to check for fetal abnormalities, particularly in the central nervous system. None were detected,” Sec. Ubial told the Inquirer. Ubial also said the woman will be monitored by a DOH team that handles local Zika virus cases.
The Zika virus is especially dangerous to pregnant women, as it has been proven to cause babies to be born with microcephaly, a neurological birth defect marked by an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brains. It was initially reported in Latin American countries and the Caribbean late last year and recently hit Singapore last month.
The Zika virus is acquired mainly through mosquito bites, but can also be sexually transmitted. The DOH had previously issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid Iloilo, where most of the country's Zika cases have been reported. The cases recorded in the country so far are patients from Metro Manila, Muntinlupa, Visayas and Iloilo City.
The first locally-transmitted Zika infection was recorded in the country on September 5 in Iloilo City. Three new Zika cases have been confirmed by the DOH this week, bringing the country's total to 12 confirmed cases so far this year. The ages of the patients are 9 to 55 years old; eight are women.
Those infected usually suffer from fever, rash, conjunctivitis, and joint pain. Managing these symptoms is the course of treatment for Zika, but there is no vaccine yet.
Below are some tips and information about the Zika virus from the DOH.
To prevent the spread of the virus, the DOH has repeatedly stressed for everyone to use insect repellents (click here to find out the most effective one), cover up, and destroy possible mosquito breeding grounds. Those who are experiencing symptoms are asked to go to the hospital immediately to have themselves checked.
With additional reporting by Rachel Perez