The Department of Health on Sunday, said that an American woman was infected with the Zika virus while visiting the Philippines, the first case detected in the country since 2012.
According to Health Secretary Janette Garin, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) had informed her that the US resident although not pregnant had developed symptoms in her last week before returning to the US after visiting the Philippines for four weeks in January.
“We were informed that shortly after returning home to the US, an evidence of Zika virus infection was detected from the patient,” Garin said in a statement.
“Currently, we are coordinating with US-CDC for the profile of the patient, including information on places she visited in the Philippines,” she added.
Based on initial information, the American tourist had traveled mostly in Luzon.
“But we reiterate, this is just one case. There is no epidemic of the Zika virus in the Philippines. There is no outbreak of the Zika virus in the Philippines. There is no cause to panic,” Garin said in an interview.
The DOH still has no clue on how the American was infected while in the Philippines.
The only known case of Zika virus in the Philippines was in 2012, a 15-year-old boy in Cebu without travel history, He recovered after three weeks, no other case has since been reported.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue chikungunya and yellow fever.
The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.
Zika virus in not life-threatening but has been linked to a rise in birth defects in other countries mostly in Brazil where hundreds of babies have been born with unusually small heads.
According to the WHO, Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines.
If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.
The only way to fight Zika is to clear stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, and to protect against mosquito bites.