January 04, 2019

Zika Re-Emerges in Merlion City: What We Should Know

Zika Re-Emerges in Merlion City: What We Should Know

Zika Re-Emerges in Merlion City: What We Should Know

As January rolled over in 2018, Singapore was once again confronted by first reported case of Zika virus infection of the year. This reminds all of us that we should remain vigilant on how we should continually protect ourselves from Zika virus.

This is why it is now the best time to re-visit on what we know about Zika virus.

How is Zika virus transmitted?

  1. Zika virus is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
  2. Similar to dengue, an uninfected Aedes mosquito bites an infected person, thus becoming infected itself, and spreads Zika virus by taking next blood meal from uninfected person.
  3. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible.

What are the signs and symptoms of Zika?

  1. It is not clear how long it will take for Zika symptoms to show from time of exposure, but it is like a few days.
  2. The symptoms are similar to dengue - fever,skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2 to 7 days.

What are the treatment options available for Zika?

  1. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine available for Zika virus.
  2. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice.

How is Zika diagnosed?

  1. Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (e.g. residence in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission).
  2. A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.
  3. In Singapore, Ministry of Health Singapore (MOH)will provide a subsidy for the test by the public sector laboratories. More information is provided on official MOH website.

What about microcephaly and other neurological disorders?

  1. WHO has concluded that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities such asmicrocephaly, based on a systematic review of the literature up to 30 May 2016.
  2. Zika virus is a trigger of Guillain-Barré syndrome.

What should we do about Zika?

The adage “Prevention is better than cure” stays true time after time, even more so when it comes to Zika virus.

Mosquito prevention:

  1. Wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible.
  2. Use physical barriers like window screens or close doors and windows.
  3. Sleep under mosquito nets.
  4. Use insect repellent containing ingredients recommended by WHO (DEET, IR3535,picaridin, OLE, PMD and 2-undecanone)
  5. Cover, empty or clean potential mosquito breeding sites using 5-Step Mozzie Wipeout guide provided by National Environment Agency (NEA).

Sexual transmission:

  1. WHO recommends practicing safer sex or abstinence for 6 months for men and women who are returning from areas of active Zika transmission.
  2. Sexual partners of pregnant women, living in or returning from areas of active Zika transmission should practice safer sex or abstain from sexual activity throughout the pregnancy.


© Jo-Lynn Teh, BCE

 Jo-Lynn Teh is ESA Board Certified Entomologist based in Singapore. While her specialization is on tropical insects that affect public health and agriculture, Jo-Lynn’s passion is also to help people understand insects. Find her on LinkedIn.

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