DOH: 6 more cases of Zika in PH

Department of Health confirms that there are 6 more Zika cases in Philippines

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Tuesday six more cases of patients who tested positive of the dreaded Zika virus, bringing the total number of cases to nine which was recorded for September alone.

“We have six new cases of confirmed Zika in the Philippines for this year… This brings the total number to nine following the three previous cases reported. All of these cases were reported by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM),” said DOH Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Dr. Eric Tayag in a press briefing held at the department’s main office in Manila.

Tayag said the ages of those infected were 9 to 45 years old. Six were females and none of them were pregnant. The number includes the index case of the 45 year-old female from Iloilo, Tayag said.

Seven of these cases were detected in Iloilo while one was recorded in Cebu City (Central Visayas) and one from Laguna province (CALABARZON).

Of the seven cases in Iloilo, the three cases were all detected to be in the same household — the index case plus the two household members.

“Iyung apat, kumukuha pa kami impormasyon at inaalam namin kung may kinalalaman… Subalit sa nakuhang impormasyon ng aming team wala ho kinalaman yun sa unang tatlo kaso [We are still getting information if the four cases were related, but so far we think they are all unrelated],” Tayag added.

He also said the cases detected in Iloilo were 10 kilometers away from the residence of the index case.

All persons involved had no history of travel to other countries within a month on the onset of the illness.

Aside from the current nine cases, other cases of Zika were also recorded in the country—one in 2012 through local transmission and the other four were foreign nationals who had travel history in the country early this year.

The total number of Zika cases reported in the country is now 14.

“We are expecting that the number of reported cases will increase as we continue sending our Quick Response Teams (QRTs),” Tayag said.

Tayag said he would not be surprised if other cases would be reported in other parts of the country.

The spokesperson also said that so far they do not consider classifying the reported cases under active transmission status.

“Maganda senyales (no active transmission) kasi, ibig sabihin pwedeng pigilan ang pagdami o pagkalat ng Zika sa iba pang lugar na ‘di pa nag-rereport [No active transmission is a good sign because that means we can prevent the spread of the virus],” he added.

He said active transmission status happens when the case has become widespread and becomes harder to detect how it was transmitted — either by mosquito bite or sexual transmission.

There is also active transmission if the cases were over two weeks and the case is not confined to one area alone, he added.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gundo Weiler, World Health Organization country representative said that Zika has affected 19 countries including the Philippines.

“We know that there is a risk in vectors in the country… we know a lot of travel and there is likelihood of Zika spread. More cases confirmed is also reflecting DOH has been testing more pro-actively recently,” Weiler said.

Weiler said they are working closely with the DOH on the Zika action plan which was revised at the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, the DOH said it is not issuing any travel advisory or limiting pregnant women from going to Iloilo.

“We have not recommended that,” Tayag said.

He said their advise for pregnant women is to ask instruction from their doctors if they are living in affected areas.

At present, at least about 100 suspected cases have undergone urine and blood testing.

To be eligible, a suspected case must present a skin rash within the face area aside from other possible symptoms of Zika.

The DOH also announced that RITM is maintaining some 1,000 testing kits and procurement of another 8,000 pieces amounting to PHP6,000 each is under way totaling to PHP48 million.[By Leilani S. Junio, PNA]

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