MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed Monday that the 20-year-old Korean, who was reported to be infected with Zika virus after taking a vacation in a tourist spot in the Philippines, is the country’s third case documented so far.
DOH Secretary Janette L. Garin said the Korean national belongs to the “second exported case” category.
“It’s the second exported case and the third confirmed case. So we have one in Cebu (15-year old male in 2012 with no travel history to Zika-infected countries), and the other one is an American,” said Garin in an interview with reporters.
The American was confirmed positive with Zika virus after staying four weeks in the country on January of this year.
Despite the admission, Garin said there is no room for “panic” as all of the documented Zika infections in the country were all assessed as “self-limiting”, or mild and therefore should not be a cause for fear while at the same time should not be complacent about it.
She further said that since the Zika virus infection acquired in the country was categorized as self-limiting, the man was already healed from all the symptoms or had been healed already.
Zika infection, which is caused by Zika virus, is characterized by fever, rash, and conjunctivitis, joint pain, muscle pain, headache, and vomiting.
It was disclosed that the American patient, together with his sibling, had a vacation in a tourist destination in the Philippines on April 10 to 14, and exhibited symptoms of the disease few days later.
The young man manifested colds on April 20, followed by rashes on April 22, and fever, sore throat and muscle pain on April 26.
“The virus was seen in his urine samples on April 27 and the case was reported to the DOH on April 28,” the DOH chief said.
She said the patient disclosed that there were only two countries that he went through prior to the detection of the Zika virus infection – Philippines and Korea.
While Zika virus-carrying mosquitoes, aedes aegypti, have always been present in the Philippines, experts said there is no such type of mosquito or a counterpart in Korea and therefore the possibility that it was acquired in the country has more weight to believe for the purpose of documentation.
Zika cases are being documented and reported as part of the monitoring of the cases reported.
“All of them (those that were tested) turned out well,” Garin said, noting that the kind of infection which has been documented in the Philippines was “relative only but not exactly the same” as the one in other countries, particularly in Brazil.
Meanwhile, the DOH official is hopeful that tourism in the country will not be affected and will not be a cause for tourists to be discouraged from coming here as she assured that the virus contracted by the patient is not a serious type and does not even require hospitalization at all.
She further said that the confirmed case just support earlier assumption that Zika is really in the Philippines since the carrier – Aedes Aegypty, is also present here.
“But it’s not the type that causes microcephaly or Guillain-Barré Syndrome,” she stressed.
Garin said the DOH continues with its aggressive testing of patients for Zika infection.
Aside from the 800 individuals tested in the Philippines after an American national was reported by US Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, she said that more than 600 additional patients were tested in the country recently to allay fears and prove that the virus was self-limiting.
“All the testing yielded negative results,” she added.
The testing kits were all provided by the US CDC upon the request of the Philippine government through the DOH.
She said that with the presence of mosquitoes that have the capabilities to transmit zika, dengue, chikungunya, and other diseases that can be brought by mosquito bites, the aggressive campaign on cleanliness, strategies in the prevention or proliferation of mosquitoes, and preventive mechanism should not be forgotten and always be remembered at practice at all times.
Under the 4S campaign of DOH, they are emphasizing Searching and destroying mosquito breeding places, using of Self-protection measures, Seeking early consultation for fever lasting more than two days, and Saying yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak.