Indonesia: Zika virus in Indonesia since 2015 -- researcher

thejakartapost.com 30 Jan 16;

The Zika virus has been in Jambi at least since 2015, a researcher has said. The virus was found in 2015 during an outbreak of dengue fever that hit the province from December 2014 to April 2015, said Eijkman Biological Molecular Institute deputy director Herawati Sudoyo as reported by kompas.com on Friday.

“It started during the dengue fever outbreak in Jambi. We were ordered to examine samples of blood from 103 patients. In one patient, we found the Zika virus in a sample of his blood,” said Herawati.

Zika is believed to have spread from Africa to Asia. Currently, Brazil is being hit by a Zika outbreak. The Associated Press has reported that the virus was spreading like wildfire thanks in part to the region's widespread poverty, equatorial heat and chronic infestations of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a mosquito that also spreads dengue fever.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

Eijkman’s Frilasita Yudhaputri said the Jambi patient had never traveled abroad. Therefore, the institution concluded that the virus had been in the province for some.

“The finding was reported to the Health Ministry and was published in an international journal,” she added.

Frilasita believed the Zika virus had spread in Jambi together with dengue fever. She argued, therefore, that the government needed to prepare for the further possible spread of the virus.

Frilasita said the patient in Jambi was a 27-year-old man who had shown similar symptoms to patients in other Asian countries like Thailand. His symptoms differed, however, from the patients infected in Brazil.

“The best way to prevent the spread is to cut the vector cycle by killing mosquitoes,” she stressed.

Separately, Oscar Primadi, head of the Health Ministry’s communications and health service bureau, called on people not to panic.

Meanwhile, Wiendra Waworuntu, the ministry’s contagious disease prevention and monitoring director, called on residents to keep alert for the spread of larva and to avoid traveling to countries in the grip of a Zika virus outbreak. (bbn)

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