Vientiane (VNA) – No cases of Zika virus have been recorded in Laos so far this year, the Lao Ministry of Health announced at a press conference in Vientiane on March 10.
The confirmation was made in the context that the mosquito-borne virus is spreading globally, pushing the United Nations to declare Zika an international public health emergency.
On March 4, the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report saying that Laos joined a total of 41 countries that have reported local transmissions of the virus since the beginning of this year.
However, at the press conference, Bounlay Phommasack from the Health Ministry’s Department of Communicable Diseases Control rejected the WHO’s notice.
According to the official, the information has not been updated and is based on reports previously announced by the Health Ministry and the Pasteur Institute of Laos.
In late February, the two agencies uncovered blood test results of suspected patients of dengue and diseases linked to Aedes Aegypti mosquito es, in records dating between 2012-2015.
Accordingly, 19 of the patients, including 13 male and six female, were found to have been infected with Zika virus.
Bounlay said the six female patients were not pregnant at the time when they contracted the virus. All 19 patients had never been to Zika-striken countries, he affirmed.
After contracting the virus, none of those effected experienced complications and all are now in good condition of health, the official added.
Asked about Laos’ combat against the virus, Bounlay said the country has established groups in charge of fighting dangerous contagious diseases in provinces, including Zika virus.
The Health Ministry has strengthened communication work to raise public awareness of ways to fight Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes , the main transmitter of Zika infections.
The Lao Government has also increased measures against diseases at international border gates, including the installation of body temperature scanners at the Wattay International Airport.
Vietnam has so far recorded no cases related to Zika virus, according to the Ministry of Health’s Preventive Medicine Department.
Zika is mainly transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever. The virus has been linked to microcephaly, a condition that causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, in the vast majority of cases, brain damage. Currently there is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika.-VNA