Dr. Willie Ong, a cardiologist and a former DOH consultant, said that random testing on Zika virus should be done on at least 100 people in several barangays that have the highest number of dengue cases in the country last year, with pregnant women as the primary targets including those with fever and rashes.

Dr. Willie Ong, (Left) and Janette Garin (Right)
Dr. Willie Ong, (Left) and Janette Garin (Right)

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main carrier of the Zika virus, the same mosquito that transmits dengue, which is endemic in the Philippines.

“If one American visiting Luzon could get Zika, then many other Filipinos already have the virus,” Ong said.

Dr. Ong called for random testing in barangays after the DOH announced that an American woman was infected with the Zika virus while visiting the Philippines.

Meanwhile, in an interview, DOH secretary Janette Garin said, that the DOH is focusing on efforts to limit the spread of Zika virus, and is undertaking “aggressive surveillance.”

“Our main target, for now, is vector control,” she said, adding that DOH is now tracing the places visited by the American woman who visited the country last January.

“There’s no cause for panic. There’s no epidemic and no outbreak.” She added.

Ms. Garin calls for those with Zika symptoms to consult a doctor and urged pregnant women to avoid mosquito bites.

Garin said the DoH may not heed calls to conduct random testing, as people who do not display symptoms tend to test negative for the Zika virus anyway.

She said the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. had issued directives to conduct tests on those who display these symptoms: two days fever, eye redness, and rashes.

“We will do what is recommended. We will do what is good for our people. We will not create panic,” she said.

Garin said widespread testing would possibly cause shortage of testing kits, especially since they are currently still sourced from the CDC and not actually bought.

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.

Zika virus in not life-threatening but has been linked to a rise in birth defects in other countries mostly in countries at the epicenter of the outbreak, where hundreds of babies have been born with unusually small heads.

Key facts

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or a headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.

The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

Zika virus disease infographics from the World Health Organization (WHO).

These infographics help present ideas on how zika virus affects your health in a clear and concise way.