PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has confirmed its first Zika infection case at the Sungai Buloh Hospital, in a woman who recently travelled to Singapore.
Malaysia is now on high alert for any spread of the mosquito-borne virus.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry yesterday received a report on a patient suspected of having the Zika virus infection.
The patient is a 58-year-old woman residing in Bandar Botanic, Klang, Selangor. Her daughter is a Zika patient in Singapore.
Dr Subramaniam said the woman and her husband had visited their daughter in Singapore on Aug 19 and returned to Malaysia on Aug 21.
"The patient started exhibiting symptoms of rash on Aug 28, and she sought medical attention at a private clinic in Klang on Aug 30.
"As the patient had a travel history to Singapore and her daughter was confirmed to have Zika virus infection on Aug 30, the private general practitioner diagnosed her as a "suspected Zika case."
"On the same day, the patient was referred to the Sungai Buloh Hospital. The result of the urine PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test on Aug 31 showed that she tested positive for Zika virus. However, the patient’s blood test result is still pending," he told a press conference here today.
Dr Subramaniam said the source of infection is suspected to have come from Singapore, as the woman had started experiencing signs of Zika infection on the same day with her daughter in Singapore.
"The patient's husband and family members who live in the same house with her, have yet to show any symptoms of Zika infection.
"For the period from Aug 21 to Aug 28, when the patient was returning from Singapore, she had visited several areas in Klang and Kuala Lumpur."
Dr Subramaniam said the government’s priority is to control the mosquito population in Malaysia, and that relevant measures have been taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.
"The ministry has begun vector control activities in the residential area of the case and other places that the patient had visited.
"Control activities carried out include eliminating Aedes breeding sites, larvaciding and fogging.
"Close contacts to the patient will also be examined whether they have any fever or other Zika symptoms."
Dr Subramaniam said information obtained from Singapore's Ministry of Health, revealed that there are five Malaysians residing and working in Singapore who have also been infected with the Zika virus.
He said that from Aug 27 to Aug 31 , there have been 115 confirmed Zika cases in Singapore.
"Due to the rapid spread of Zika virus infection, Aedes monitoring and preventive activities are continuously performed and intensified in all states, especially in Johor and Selangor.
"Among others, we will get the relevant authorities to spray mosquito repellent in vehicles coming into the country from Singapore.
"Malaysians, must focus on cleaning the Aedes breeding places, protect themselves from Aedes mosquito bites and seek early medical attention if they have signs such as fever, rash and conjunctivitis.
"From the first reported case of Zika, we can conclude that it is rather easy to get infected by the virus when visiting places that have outbreaks, including Singapore."
Dr Subramaniam called on people who had visited countries that have reported Zika infection, to come forward to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any symptoms.
He also advised people travelling to and from and Singapore to use mosquito repellent, wear long sleeved shirts and trousers to reduce risk of mosquito bites.
He said the Zika virus can spread via sexual activities where an infected person will carry the virus in his body for a specific period (if infected, men will have the virus in them for six months and women for two months).
"Those with the virus in the body can spread the virus to another person via sex. Have protected sex or abstain from sexual activities during the period.
"Pregnant women or those planning to get pregnant should seek advice from their doctors to avoid any complications."