Singapore reports first imported Zika case

48-year-old man is Singapore's first imported case of Zika virus; will be transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre for treatment and isolation to minimise spread of infection.
Channel NewsAsia 13 May 16;

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) reported Singapore's first imported case of Zika on Friday (May 13).

In a joint statement, MOH and NEA said: "The patient is a 48-year-old male Singapore Permanent Resident who had travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil from Mar 27 to May 7. The patient developed fever and rash from May 10 and was admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on May 12 and isolated.

"The patient tested positive for Zika virus infection on May 13. He will be transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment and isolation to minimise the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and spreading the infection in the community. The patient is currently well and recovering. He will only be discharged upon being tested negative for the Zika virus."

The statement added that MOH is screening the patient's household members, and that the patient's residence at Watten Estate is not an active cluster. It said that NEA has intensified vector control operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the area, and that MOH and NEA would actively alert residents in the vicinity to seek medical attention should they develop symptoms of fever and rash.

MOH and NEA nevertheless stated: "We advise residents of Watten Estate, Hillcrest Arcadia, The Arcadia and Watten Hill Condominium to monitor their health."

"CHALLENGING" TO STOP ZIKA FROM SPREADING TO SINGAPORE

The Zika virus has been spreading widely through South America, in particular Brazil, where the virus was first linked with babies being born with microcephaly – abnormally small skulls and underdeveloped brains. On Feb 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika a global health emergency that needed a coordinated response.

There have been no reports of outbreaks in Asia, although sporadic cases of local Zika infection have been detected in several countries in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand previously. On Jan 19, Taiwan reported an imported case of Zika from Thailand; South Korea reported its first imported case on Mar 21; and Vietnam, its first infections on Apr 5.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong warned in January that said it may be "challenging" to prevent the virus from spreading and eventually becoming entrenched in Singapore. Mr Gan said in Parliament that the presence of the Aedes mosquito vector here is one reason for his assessment, and that the mild, non-specific nature of the symptoms in most infected patients would also make surveillance difficult.

Zika was added to the list of legally notifiable infectious diseases on Jan 26, and all medical practitioners and diagnostic laboratories are required to notify MOH of suspected and confirmed cases of Zika virus infection within 24 hours.

MOH also said in early February that it would set up a clinical advisory group on the Zika virus to provide expert advice on the management of pregnant women with Zika. Other precautionary measures were stepped up as well, including sending circulars to doctors and health advisories to travellers to and from Zika-affected countries.

On Feb 29, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor told Parliament that MOH and NEA would introduce more measures to tackle Zika. She said MOH would expand Zika virus testing capability to more public hospital laboratories, while NEA would step up the testing of blood samples for Zika from patients with fever, rashes and suspected dengue.

There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika yet. Drugmakers are scrambling to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika, but the WHO has said it would take at least 18 months to start large-scale clinical trials.


S'pore has its first Zika patient: MOH, NEA
Today Online 13 May 16;

SINGAPORE — The Zika virus has reached Singapore. The Republic's first imported case of the disease that has sparked international concern involves a 48-year-old Permanent Resident who returned from Brazil last week.

According to a joint statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday (May 13) night, the man developed fever and rash from May 10, three days after he returned from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he had stayed since March 27.

The PR, who stays at the Watten Estate off Dunearn Road, tested positive for Zika on Friday. He will be transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment. He will also be isolated, the MOH-NEA statement said, "to minimise the chances of being bitten by mosquitoes and spreading the infection in the community".

"The patient is currently well and recovering. He will only be discharged upon being tested negative for the Zika virus," the statement said.

The Health Ministry is screening the Zika patient's household members, and advised residents in the neighbourhood to seek medical attention if they develop tell-tale symptoms like fever and rash.

"We advise residents of Watten Estate, Hillcrest Arcadia, The Arcadia and Watten Hill Condominium to monitor their health," the MOH and NEA said. "They should seek medical attention if unwell, especially if they develop symptoms such as fever and rash. They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence."

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito and is identical to dengue. According to information on the Health Ministry's website, the disease is "generally a mild and self-limiting illness (though) rare, serious neurological complications have been reported".

The virus burst onto the international spotlight earlier this year due to its explosive growth in the Americas, particularly in Brazil where mothers infected with Zika have given birth to babies with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains. The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern, and has advised pregnant women not to travel to Zika-affected areas.

The Health Ministry urged those returning to Singapore from Zika-affected areas to monitor their health for the next two weeks and see a doctor if they have develop symptoms like fever, skin rashes, joint and muscle pains, headaches and red eyes.

The ministry and NEA also urged the public to help minimise the potential spread of Zika by taking immediate steps to prevent mosquito breeding in homes, and applying insect repellent regularly.

The NEA said it has deployed more officers and intensified its vector control operations around Watten Estate, where the first Zika patient had been staying. The agency has also begun outreach efforts and distributed information leaflets on Zika to residents living in the area.

NEA called for public cooperation in cases where their officers may need to gain entry by force to destroy mosquito breeding grounds.

"As the majority of people infected with the virus do not show symptoms, it is possible that some transmission may already have taken place before the first confirmed case of Zika was notified," the joint MOH-NEA statement said. "Hence, even as NEA conducts operations to contain the transmission of the Zika virus, residents are urged to cooperate fully with NEA and allow its officers to inspect their premises for mosquito breeding and to spray insecticide to kill any mosquitoes."


Singapore's first imported Zika case: Patient discharged from CDC
Singapore's first Zika patient has made a full recovery and has been discharged from the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, say MOH and NEA.
Channel NewsAsia 17 May 16;

SINGAPORE: The 48-year-old man who was Singapore's first imported case of Zika was discharged on Tuesday (May 17) from Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Communicable Disease Centre, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a joint statement.

MOH and NEA said the patient has now tested negative for the virus.

"This means he will not transmit the virus even if he was bitten by an Aedes mosquito," MOH and NEA said. "The patient is well and has made a full recovery."

The statement added that the man's family members have not reported any symptoms of Zika.

However, MOH and NEA cautioned that residents in the Watten Estate area, where the man lives, should continue monitoring their health and seek medical attention if feeling unwell - especially if they develop symptoms such as fever and rash.

"They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence," the statement said.

In addition, MOH and NEA said members of the public should help minimise the risk of the spread of Zika by preventing mosquito breeding. One should also protect themselves from mosquito bites, such as by applying mosquito repellent.

MOH and NEA reported Singapore's first imported case of Zika on May 13. The patient had travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil from Mar 27 to May 7, and developed fever and rash from May 10.

He was then admitted to Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital on May 12 and isolated. He tested positive for the Zika virus on May 13 and was transferred to the Communicable Diseases Centre at Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment.

MOH and NEA advised residents of Watten Estate, Casa Perla, Hillcrest Arcadia, The Arcadia and Watten Hill Condominium to monitor their health.

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