VIETNAM has likely seen its first case of Zika-linked microcephaly, a condition which has led to the birth of babies with abnormally small heads, said the country’s health ministry on Sunday.
The patient is a four-month old baby from the central province of Dak Lak, whose mother had contracted the Zika virus during the pregnancy.
“This is a microcephaly case with a high probability of being related to the Zika virus and also the first such case in Vietnam,” said General Department of Preventive Medicine in an official statement.
The department’s director, Tran Dac Phu, told Reuters that there have been nine reported cases of Zika in the country, but expected more cases to be confirmed in the coming days.
Should the baby’s condition be confirmed to have resulted from Zika, Vietnam would become the second country in Southeast Asia to report such a case – the first country being Thailand.
Earlier this month, the government raised the threat level for Zika and increased monitoring of pregnant women in the country after seeing a rise in cases.
Meanwhile, Burma (Myanmar) is also on alert, as its health ministry has advised women in Yangon to receive medical check-ups before getting pregnant in the next six months following the city’s first confirmed case of Zika.
Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein, director-general of the ministry’s Public Health Department, said at a press conference on Friday that the patient was a 32-year-old foreign woman, who has been living in Yangon for two years.
He added that the patient, who is also pregnant, was believed to have been infected with the virus during a trip overseas over the last two weeks.
The ministry said it would take preventive measures in Yangon and Mandalay, and has also carried out medical check-ups on more than 30 people in the township where the patient has been residing.
“We have not yet found further suspected patient,” said Dr. Soe Lwin Nyein.
Though Zika has caused sporadic outbreaks in the region in the past, the link between Zika and microcephaly first became apparent in Brazil, which saw an unprecedented spike in microcephaly cases.