Malaysia: PM instructs take preventive measures against Zika virus and dengue fever

The Star 3 Feb 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has instructed the Health Ministry to take preventive measures against dengue fever and Zika virus.

He also wanted all parties, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations and the people in general, to join hands in eradicating Aedes mosquitoes, the agent of infection for both diseases.

"I am aware of the dengue situation in several areas in the country and also the concerns of the public regarding the alarming spread of Zika virus in many areas in America," he said in the latest posting in his blog,

Najib said more rigorous monitoring was needed, as Malaysia’s hot weather was very conducive for the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

"We need to prevent and destroy the source or vector of both diseases, that is Aedes mosquitoes. Do not give them any room to breed," he said.

Following the spread of Zika virus, the World Health Organisation has declared it to be a Public Health Emergency Of International Concern (PHEIC). – Bernama

No Zika cases so far: Subra
FAZLEENA AZIZ New Straits Times 3 Feb 16;

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has not recorded any cases of the Zika virus so far but continuous preventive measures and methods are being taken by the Health Ministry, said its minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

As of February 2, a total of 293 blood samples from patients with dengue symptoms, who tested negative for the disease were tested for Zika but results also came out negative, Dr Subramaniam said.

He said the National Public Health Lab (MKAK) and Institute of Medical Research (IMR) are monitoring the virus through continuous surveillance.

“Malaysia has the capacity to diagnose the Zika virus at the research labs but treatment is symptomatic. “The main problem associated with Zika is the development of ‘Microcephaly’ among pregnant women, who have children with small heads, and we do not have a drug to stop it…so this is an unfortunate aspect.

“Another problem that has been reported is the inflammation of the nerves that cause paralysis to the legs and arms as well as the respiratory system but management is symptomatic,” he said in a press conference today.

He added the ministry was also trying to develop diagnostics on suspected Zika cases at major medical facilities apart from the IMR.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak instructed the ministry to take preventive measures to protect the people from dengue fever and the Zika virus.

He also wanted all parties, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations and the people in general, to join hands in combating the Aedes mosquito which is the agent of infection for both diseases.

The World Health Organisation has declared the Zika virus infection as a public health emergency of international concern.

The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito that is also a carrier of the dengue virus.

Subra: It’s now more vital to get rid of mosquito breeding grounds
MAZWIN NIK ANIS The Star 4 Feb 16;

PUTRAJAYA: It’s now more important than ever for people to rid their surrounding areas of mosquito breeding grounds to prevent the spread of dengue fever and the Zika virus, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam.

This would be the most effective way to curb the spread of the two diseases. However, while there were concerns over the spread of the Zika virus, he said Malaysia now faced the more serious problem of dengue fever.

“What the public should know is that dengue is the more serious problem here and efforts must be made to control it. If we can do this, then we can also control and prevent the Zika virus from spreading here. This is because the virus is also spread through the Aedes mosquito,” he told a press conference yesterday.

Nevertheless, he assured Malay­sians that the health authorities were able to handle the related medical cases as well as patients.

Among the preparations were the setting up of a clinical surveillance system dedicated to the Zika virus at hospitals and clinics, ensuring that laboratories were always ready to conduct tests and to monitor microcephaly in reported cases.

He said the Malaysian authorities had the capacity and facilities to diagnose and manage the disease.

“The main concern is whether the virus causes microcephaly or abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development of the foetus. Unfortunately, there are no drugs to stop this,” said Dr Subramaniam.

He said the state and district health offices had been directed to ensure that preventive measures were in place, while the authorities at entry points were to monitor suspected patients through thermal scanners, similarly used to detect H1N1 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

“It is important for the public, especially those who have been to countries where the Zika virus is reported, to seek medical attention should they have fever, body ache, rashes and conjunctivitis. Go to a doctor even with the slightest health concern because in most cases, the disease doesn’t manifest with fever,” he added.

According to the health authorities, 80% of those infected with the Zika virus do not show any symptoms, not even fever.

Dr Subramaniam said that although the World Health Organi­zation did not issue travel restrictions, the health authorities felt that it was necessary to advise the public to postpone their travels to countries where the Zika virus had been reported.

To a question, he said the ministry’s policy on abortion was that if a pregnancy had serious effects on the mother’s life, the doctor could suggest an abortion.

“This policy hasn’t changed. We are more inclined towards looking at how to prevent the Zika virus. Abortion is a tricky and sensitive issue which involves other matters apart from medicine,” he res­ponded when asked if the Government would change the law on abortion in light of the Zika virus.

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