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Zika Virus in Singapore, Indonesia

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Singapore is pushing ahead with vector control measures against mosquitoes with the number of infections of Zika ballooning to 82 just four days after the first confirmation of a locally-transmitted case.

SINGAPORE/TUBAN, Indonesia-Singapore is pushing ahead with vector control measures against mosquitoes with the number of infections of Zika ballooning to 82 just four days after the first confirmation of a locally-transmitted case.

 

Authorities continued Wednesday to carry out inspections of premises in areas where Zika clusters have been identified, conducting fumigation to destroy breeding habitats.

 

Meanwhile, demand for mosquito repellent sprays and patches has spiked, with supermarkets and pharmacies assuring that they are well-stocked.

 

The United States, Australia, Taiwan and South Korea have all issued travel advisories warning pregnant women not to travel to Singapore -- with Indonesia’s health ministry following suit Wednesday.

 

Minister Nila Moeloek was quoted by kompas.com as telling reporters at the Parliament Complex, "for those who want to go to Singapore, [trips] should be postponed.”

 

The advisory was particularly directed at pregnant women, whose exposure to Zika could result in microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies have abnormally small heads that may signal that the brain is not properly developing.

 

The ministry has instructed health offices at airports and other points of entry to screen passengers using thermo-scanners and to conduct blood tests on those found to have fevers.

 

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said her ministry is communicating with others and continuing to request information from the Indonesian embassy in Singapore to monitor the spread of Zika.

 

"There are several entry points that must be equipped with detection tools for those coming from Singapore to Indonesia," she was quoted by kompas.com as saying Wednesday at the Parliament Complex.

 

According to the health minister, Zika cases in Indonesia have been detected among an indigenous tribe that lives deep in the forests of Sumatra island as well as among foreign tourists leaving the country.

 

Without providing a figure, Moeloek said “several members” of the Suku Anak Dalam in Jambi province were found to be infected by the virus by researchers looking into dengue virus in the area.

 

"[The cases] found among the Suku Anak Dalam do not reach the dozens, only little," she was reported saying by detik.com.

 

"There are some travelers returning from Indonesia who are Zika positive," she added, without providing details.

 

Zika is primarily transmitted by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, and many countries in South America have been experiencing outbreaks of the virus -- with Brazil being particularly hard hit since reporting its first case in May 2015.

 

Doctors believe as much as 80 percent of those infected with Zika never develop symptoms, while those who have symptoms suffer from fevers, joint pain and rashes. The virus has been linked to serious birth defects, including microcephaly.

 

By Kirsten Han and Ainur Rohmah (AA)

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