Malaysia detects first case of locally transmitted Zika

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian health ministry on Saturday said it has detected the first case of a locally transmitted Zika infection in a 61-year-old man in the state of Sabah.

The condition of the patient - who is also suffering from high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and gout - was serious because of the multiple illnesses, and not primarily due to the Zika infection, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The patient, whose blood and urine samples tested positive for Zika, did not travel overseas recently and was probably bitten by Aedes mosquito infected with Zika, the ministry said.

"Since the Zika virus has been detected in this country, Zika case is expected to increase further, especially if prevention activities for Aedes are not seriously taken up by the community, individuals and other relevant agencies," the ministry said.

On Thursday, Malaysia confirmed the first imported case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore.

The city-state announced the first locally contracted case of Zika last Saturday, and the number of diagnosed infections has grown steadily with total cases at 189 as of Friday.

Of those infected in Singapore, eleven are Malaysians, the ministry said.

Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly - a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized - as well as other brain abnormalities.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last year in Brazil, which has since confirmed more than 1,800 cases of microcephaly.

In adults, Zika infections have also been linked to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological disorders.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes.

An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, making it difficult for pregnant women to know whether they have been infected.