Philippines health officials reported on today an additional three locally acquired Zika virus infections in the Iloilo City area in the Western Visayas, bringing the case tally on the archipelago to 12.

The new cases were reported from Iloilo City (2) and Oton, just a few kilometers away.

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

With 10 cases reported in the Western Visayas, the other two were reported in Cebu City and the previously reported case from Laguna (CALABARZON) was traced to Muntinlupa upon verification, according to Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial.

8 were females while age ranged from 9 years to 55 years and the case from Cebu City is 19 weeks pregnant with her first child. Initial ultrasound did not detect any fetal abnormalities. She will be monitored regularly during the entire period of the pregnancy.

DOH quick response teams were sent to affected areas to conduct case investigations and to recommend specific measures to prevent further spread. Iloilo city is carrying out indoor residual spraying coupled with fogging in affected and high risk areas to reduce adult mosquito density. This were done only after search and destroy were done in the same areas in order to eliminate mosquito breeding sites. All cases were advised to avoid mosquito bites by applying insect repellent over exposed areas at least a week after onset of their illness.

Zika Virus Disease is primarily transmitted via mosquito bites. The Aedes aegypti is responsible for spreading Zika virus and also Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. In Brazil and other countries, pregnant women who got infected at anytime during their pregnancy have increased risk of giving birth to babies with congenital defects affecting the brain (microcephaly). Sexual transmission was also reported as another means of getting the Zika virus.

DOH reiterates its appeal to LGUs to find ways and be very vigorous so that households are able to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites, commonly seen inside and around homes. Pregnant women may use insect repellent or mosquito nets at daytime to avoid mosquito bites and potential Zika infection. Any individual who presents with skin rash and any other symptom should visit the nearest facility to rule out Zika infections. Zika can be mistaken for Measles, Dengue or Chikungunya. A laboratory test is needed to confirm them. Pregnant women should follow advice of their doctors with regards to risks associated with Zika and on ways to prevent Zika infection.

“Tandaan na lahat ng sakit na ito: Zika, Dengue, Chikunguya, ay nanggaling sa iisang lamok. Apat na bagay lang ang dapat nating tandaan upang ang lamok ay maiwasan. The 4S means (1) Search and destroy mosquito breeding places, (2) Self-protection measures like using insect repellent and mosquito bed nets especially at day time, as well as the use of condom for protection against this sexually transmitted infection, (3) Seek early consultation for skin rashes and fever, joint pain or red eyes, and (4) Say Yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak. Ugaliin nating gawin ang 4S sa ating komunidad para maprotektahan ang ating pamilya at mahal sa buhay.” Secretary Ubial concluded.