Zika virus will become an epidemic in Malaysia

05-Sep-2016 Intellasia | Astroawani | 8:39 AM Print This Post

With the announcement on the arrival of Zika virus to our shores yesterday, experts mulled that it would morph into a catastrophic epidemic bigger than that of Singapore.

Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital Senior Consultant Community Paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh said Malaysia has a far more serious Aedes infestation compared to Singapore, thus making it more vulnerable to the spread of Zika virus.

“As a society, we do not care enough about dengue and Zika. Dengue and Zika are so connected because they come from the same source, that is the Aedes mosquito.

“There is no way to get rid of Aedes mosquito fully, but you can reduce the breeding grounds. That can prevent diseases from spreading.

“But we can never do so without cooperation from the society,” he said to Astro AWANI when contacted on Thursday.

However, Dr Amar who is also the Ipoh hospital’s Head of the Paediatric Department was of the opinion that it would not be easy for the Malaysian society.

“From my observations, in Malaysia, I think we can never solve this problem. Unless the society suddenly attain awareness on cleanliness, especially when it comes to waste disposal,” he said.

He added that the vaccine for Zika virus is still under development and as the disease is very new, many people are vulnerable to infection as they have yet to gain immunisation against it.

He advised the public to take precautions to prevent themselves from being bitten while taking the responsibility to ensure that there is no possible Aedes breeding areas in their surroundings.

“To be honest, I am worried about pregnant mothers and the babies that they will bring to the world, with this threat of Zika virus.

“If we look at the data from Brazil and other countries currently infected with the virus on a big scale, many parents have children with microcephaly, a condition that prevents brain growth.

“And to immediately get rid of this problem would be difficult, as we have a lot of mosquitoes in our country.

“We can’t just give the responsibility to the mothers to protect themselves but the whole society needs to shoulder it,” he said.

A recent data from Brazil cited that 20 to 30 percent of those infected with Zika virus do not know that they have the disease.

On the side effects of Zika virus, Dr Amar said, it might only be felt in a year or two from now.

“It is so worrying because Zika on its own is not as severe as dengue but it can stay in your body for a long time and you might not know that you have it.

“Pregnant mothers in Brazil who do not know they were infected with Zika gave birth to children with defects.

“And there is a serious emotional, psychological, economical and social consequences to this. What can these mothers do?” he asked.

Yesterday, the health ministry announced the first Zika case in Malaysia where a 58-year old woman from Klang, Selangor was infected with the virus when she visited her daughter in Singapore early last month.

Singapore’s authorities have also identified an additional 31 cases of Zika infection, including a second case involving a pregnant woman.

The total number of Zika cases in Singapore currently stands at 151.



Category: Health

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