The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced that there are 16 pregnant women who have been confirmed to be infected with the Zika virus in Singapore.
It also stated that their doctors are following them up closely to provide counselling and support.
The consequences of pregnant woman who is infected can be more serious, as Zika virus infection may cause microcephaly in the unborn foetus of pregnant women.
Microcephaly is a congenital condition in which the head size is much smaller than usual for a baby of the same age, race, and sex.
A variety of genetic and environmental factors, such as Down Syndrome, exposure to drugs, alcohol or other toxins in the womb, rubella and a few other infections during pregnancy can be the cause of this condition. However, there is no specific treatment for this condition.
Earlier, MOH noted that members of public should take note that a positive Zika test does not mean that the foetus is infected or harmed. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of an infected mother giving birth to a child with microcephaly is between one to 13 percent.
MOH also mentioned earlier that a small number of cases of sexual transmission have been documented, therefore, potentially exposed males with female partners who are pregnant should practise safe sex through the correct and consistent use of condoms, or abstinence, for the duration of their female partner’s pregnancy.
Women with confirmed Zika virus infection should abstain from sexual intercourse for at least eight weeks after recovery. While men with confirmed Zika virus infection but whose female partner is not pregnant should also adopt safe sexual practices or consider abstinence for six months after recovery.
MOH said that 658 Zika tests were done for free or at subsidised price of $60 per test between Sept 7 and Sept 17.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) also stated that there were 3 more cases between 21 and 23 September as of 3 pm, which brought the total number to 387 cases.
Currently, there are nine active clusters of Zika virus infection:
- Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive/ Paya Lebar Way/ Kallang Way/ Circuit Road/ Geylang East Central/ Geylang East Avenue 1
- Bedok North Avenue 2/ Bedok North Avenue 3/ Bedok North Street 3
- Joo Seng Road
- Bishan Street 12
- Elite Terrace
- Ubi Crescent
- Jalan Raya/Circuit Road
- Sengkang Ctrl/ Sengkang East Ave
- Hougang Ave 7 (Blk 325)
The Ministry of Health (MOH) had earlier announced that the National Public Health Laboratory and A*STAR’s Bioinformatics Institute had completed the sequencing analysis of the Zika virus found in two patients from the Aljunied Crescent/ Sims Drive cluster.
The analysis found that the virus belongs to the Asian lineage and likely evolved from the strain that was already circulating in Southeast Asia. MOH states that the virus from these two patients was not imported from South America. However, the first case that was reported in May 2016 had been confirmed to be the same as the strains currently found in South America.
Vector control is still being carried out by NEA to control the spread of the infection via mosquitoes.