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Zika Virus In Southeast Asia: A Closer Look Into The Situation

Update Date: Sep 09, 2016 11:20 AM EDT
A digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus
This is a digitally-colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Zika virus, which is a member of the family Flaviviridae. Virus particles, here colored blue, are 40 nm in diameter, with an outer envelope, and an inner dense core. (Photo : CDC/ Cynthia Goldsmith/
Brazil Continues Battle Against Zika Virus Ahead Of Olympic Games
RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 02: Aedes aegypti mosquitos are seen in a lab at the Fiocruz Institute on June 2, 2016 in Recife, Brazil. Microcephaly is a birth defect linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus where infants are born with abnormally small heads. (Photo : Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The presence of Zika virus in Southeast Asia has surely created a scare among the locales.

A new report, however, has noted that the strain of the virus found in the locally transmitted cases in the Asian region, particularly in Singapore, is different from the one which was reportedly imported from Brazil last May.

According to Straits Times, the Ministry of Health's National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and A*Star's Bioinformatics Institute (BII) made the announcement on Thursday.

It was further revealed that the cases recently found at the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive cluster are said to be similar to the Zika virus strains which affected Southeast Asia since the 1960s, which was "subsequently spread to French Polynesia in 2013 and to Brazil in 2015."

Meanwhile, the reported other case is said to be similar to the strain currently affecting South America.

Amid their difference in strains, it was pointed out that there has been no study yet to prove that they cause a different type of disease at different levels of severity.

"While there was no link established between microcephaly and Zika until the Brazil outbreak, we have to assume it is possible, hence the precautions that pregnant women are advised to take," National Public Health Lab head Dr. Raymond Lin said.

The findings of NPHL and BII will be beneficial in tracking the "global spread and evolution," as these will also be part of public databases which scientists and the World Health Organization (WHO) can use.

In the meantime, Fox News reported that Malaysia is expecting more Zika virus cases, especially that it has been spreading throughout Southeast Asia recently. 

 "The confirmation of the second case of Zika in Kota Kinabalu suggests that the virus is already present within our communities," Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam shared on Facebook. "Zika is present in our country. New cases will continue to emerge."



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