MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday that two more persons from Iloilo City tested positive for Zika virus, bringing to eight the number of confirmed Zika cases in the country.
In a press briefing held at the DOH Media Relations Unit in Tayuman, Sta. Cruz, Manila, Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial said the two new cases have been staying in the same house in Iloilo City, where the sixth confirmed Zika case detected earlier this month, is living.
The age, sex, and relationship of the patients have been withheld to protect their privacy.
According to Dr. Ubial, the two additional cases were confirmed through the samples of specimens of urine and blood tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
“Both cases presented with mild skin rash and not accompanied by other signs and symptoms, unlike the index case (45-year-old female) who presented with skin rash, joint pains and red eyes,” Secretary Ubial said.
She said the two yielded positive results out of the 12 households tested to find if they were positive for the virus through the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing kits.
She added that the two patients are now undergoing “home quarantine measures” wherein they stay inside the house and are advised to use and apply self-protective measures such as using mosquito nets and repellants so that they will not be bitten by mosquitoes.
The sixth index case involving a 45-year-old non-pregnant woman from Iloilo City was recorded this year as the first case of Zika virus transmitted or acquired locally – not from any Zika endemic country.
The first case of local transmission happened in 2012, involving a teenage boy in Cebu City.
With the additional two confirmed cases, the number of local transmissions in the country totaled to four.
The other cases involved foreign nationals – an American and three Koreans who traveled in the Philippines. There was no direct basis of acquiring the said virus in the country, the reason why their cases were not considered to be “locally transmitted.”
All the previous cases, including the sixth case, have been classified as “healed or have recovered” from the virus.
According to the DOH, protecting one’s self from mosquito bites is also a way to protect others from acquiring Zika virus in the process.
Dr. Ubial said that 88 households near the place of the Zika cases in Iloilo City were visited to check if they have containers that serve as breeding sites for mosquitoes.
The containers were found to be positive with Aedes aegypti – the principal mosquito vector for the Zika virus.This mosquito is also the carrier or has the ability to transmit dengue and chikungunya.
In line with this, the DOH Chief called on the public anew to implement intensive mosquito control campaigns in a bid to prevent Zika virus infection.
“Individuals who present symptoms of rash, joint pains, and red eyes must visit health facilities to confirm the diagnosis,” Dr. Ubial added.
Pregnant women and those planning to get pregnant are also being advised to visit their doctors for any illnesses they would develop.
The Health Chief also urged all local government units (LGUs) to implement mosquito campaigns to stop the spread of Zika virus.
As for Iloilo City, Dr. Ubial said they have already ordered the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, insecticides, and information and education materials to the residents.
At the same time, she also called on the public not to panic.
“We are asking the public not to panic, actually because these are really… shall we say, isolated cases. And we are now doing contract-tracing and evaluating the situations in the area indeed if there is a spread (of Zika virus) to other parts. So as of now, there is no cause for alarm,” she stressed.