As of February 2, 2017, a total of 57 Zika cases were reported in the country. There were 38 (67%) females and 19 (33%) males. Age ranged from 7 years-59 years (median 32 years). There were no deaths. These were detected in the following areas: National Capital Region – 20 cases (35%), CALABARZON – 18 cases (32%), Western Visayas – 15 cases (26%), Central Luzon – 2 cases (4%) and Central Visayas – 2 cases (4%).

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

Of 57 cases, 7 were confirmed Zika pregnant cases. Age ranged from 16 years to 32 years. Three came from NCR and 2 each from CALABARZON and CENTRAL VISAYAS. One case 16-year-old from Las Piñas) already gave birth to a baby boy at full term without microcephaly. Another case (32 year old from Central Visayas) had spontaneous abortion at 9 weeks of pregnancy. The rest are being closely monitored.

The Department of Health (DOH) is currently verifying a report that a mother and her full term, newborn baby girl in Western Visayas, were screened positive for Zika virus antibodies using a rapid diagnostic test, which is not confirmatory. The mother did not manifest any symptoms of Zika virus throughout her pregnancy. She gave birth by normal spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, upon the birth of the child, it was observed that the size of the baby’s head is smaller than the usual (microcephaly). The baby was also born with encephalocoele, rare type of birth defect of the neural tube that affects the brain, in the area between her eyes.

“Samples from mother and the baby were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and will be subjected to a confirmatory test on Zika virus using Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT PCR),” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial explained.

The health chief added that Zika infection is asymptomatic in 80% of cases and most of the time the disease is self-limiting. However, the effect on the result of pregnancy should not be discounted. Zika virus has been linked to congenital CNS malformation like microcephaly. DOH calls on pregnant women to avoid mosquito bites especially during day time. Insect repellents are safe for regular application. For those with fever, rash, and conjunctivitis, submit yourself for consultation.

Zika viral disease, caused by Zika virus, is characterized by fever, rash, and conjunctivitis. Other symptoms are joint pain, muscle pain, headache, and vomiting. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for a week in most cases and not requiring hospitalization.

Zika virus is usually transmitted through the bite of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that transmit Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. There have been reports that the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact.

The symptoms of Zika virus disease can be treated with common pain and fever relief medicines, rest, and plenty of water intake. Pregnant women who develop illness should seek advice of doctors before taking any medicine. If symptoms persist, patients are advised to consult the nearest health facility. Currently, there is no available vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection.

“It is very important to search and destroy the potential breeding sites in order to prevent the spread of Aedes mosquitoes that serve as vector of the virus. We reiterate that cleanliness is still the key against mosquito-borne diseases. The public is reminded to be vigilant and pre-cautious in eliminating mosquito breeding places through the ‘4S campaign’. The 4S means Search & destroy mosquito breeding places, use Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say yes to fogging ONLY when there is an impending outbreak,” Secretary Ubial concluded.