MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) assured on Monday that it is doing close monitoring and testing of travelers from endemic countries who are symptomatic or indicating signs of Zika virus infection.
The assurance was made as part of DOH’s enhancing of its alertness level as an increase in the number of Zika infection cases in neighboring Singapore has been noted.
Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said that part of the monitoring includes the country’s ports of entry “to make sure that the virus will not get into our shores or possible spread will be controlled ahead.”
She added that surveillance and quarantine check at the airports and seaports and points of entry are still in place.
At present, none of those tested yielded positive for the virus, according to the Health Chief.
Testing is being done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
As of Sunday, Singapore had confirmed 41 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus.
Zika virus infection is a vector-borne disease which is caused by flavivirus transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti.
This type of mosquito, which also has the capability to transmit dengue and chikungunya, is rampant also in the country.
The infection is characterized by fever lasting for two to seven days, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis.
Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting.
Usually, the infection is characterized by mild flu-like symptoms.
The DOH said that Zika virus infection sometimes may appear not severe and not needing hospitalization because it can be remedied through home rest only.
Meanwhile, Secretary Ubial reminded Filipinos in Singapore to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
She said they must consistently employ self-protection measures such as applying mosquito repellents, using mosquito nets when sleeping, and wearing long sleeves.
She clarified though that the real danger is in the category of pregnant women.
What is being feared about in Zika infection is the possibility of pregnant mothers giving birth to babies with microcephaly (small head and brain).