Malaysia has confirmed its first case of Zika virus infection in a 27-year-old pregnant woman.
Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam told a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia's administrative capital, on Wednesday that the woman lives in the southern city of Johor Bahru, near Singapore, which has already recorded 275 cases of Zika infection.
"So, today we have another case of Zika, from Johor Bahru, in Taman Desa Harmoni, a 27-year-old Chinese female, who unfortunately is also pregnant. And now she has been tested positive. Husband works in Singapore. She's now under the care of doctors in the hospitals in Johor Bahru, where she will undergo the various tests which are expected to be done on a pregnant woman who is positive," Subramaniam said.
The Malaysian minister added that a wide area around the pennant’s home has been inspected and fogged with mosquito-killing chemicals.
It was not yet clear whether she had contracted the virus locally or from her husband. Her husband had also showed symptoms of Zika and was undergoing tests.
"It's still unclear whether the woman contracted the disease from her husband or whether it was locally transmitted," the minister said.
Last week, Malaysia confirmed the first imported case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore. On September 3, it confirmed the first case of a locally transmitted Zika infection.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the minister said Malaysia was expecting to experience more cases in Johor Bahru because of its closeness to Singapore. Nearly 200,000 Malaysians commute daily from Johor to Singapore.
"We have to presume that there will be more cases particularly in Johor Bahru because of the close proximity to Singapore, and there is some new cases emerging from time to time. And the only way to avoid increasing in numbers of cases is by self-protection and in the control of breeding sites of Aedes mosquito," the minister said.
Zika is primarily spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito, but can also be transmitted through sexual contact.
Although the symptoms of the virus are relatively mild and only 1 in 5 persons exposed to it become ill, those who are experiencing fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, have been strongly advised to seek immediate medical care.
The virus was first detected in Brazil last year and has since been spreading to more than 30 countries, particularly in South America. It is linked with a surge in cases of microcephaly, an untreatable condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and undeveloped brains.
The World Health Organization says at least a dozen laboratories across the world are working on a vaccine, but bringing it to market could take years. The outbreak of Zika remains an international health emergency, the Who says.