Thailand may run Zika tests for all pregnant women

Health ministry’s suggestion comes after two cases of Zika were confirmed in Thailand last week.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A four-month-old baby born with microcephaly is held by his mother in front of their house in Olinda, near Recife, Brazil, February 11, 2016.

Thailand is considering testing all pregnant women for the deadly Zika virus after two cases were reported last week, the health ministry said on Monday.

The confirmed cases of microcephaly, were the first in Southeast Asia, linked to the mosquito-borne Zika, which has been spreading in the region after ourbreaks in the Americas in 2015.  Thailand has 392 cases of Zika, of which 39 are pregnant women.

"The health minister has asked us to study whether this is necessary and cost-effective," health ministry permanent secretary, Sophon Mekthon said.

A Zika test  costs about 2,000 baht ($58) is the cost of a single Zika virus test but repeat tests are often needed.

"At the moment, we check pregnant women in Zika affected areas only, not all pregnant women. So far we have tested about 1,000 pregnant women," Sophon said.

A pregnant couple walk together at a potential zika cluster in Singapore September 1, 2016. Picture taken September 1, 2016.

Microcephaly was first linked to Zika virus last year in Brazil. The condition caused babies to be born with an undersized head and brain. Since then, 1,800 microcephaly cases have been detected only in Brazil.

At least one case of Zika detected in the Southeastern countries Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indenosia and Singapore.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned people planning to travel to Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Maldives, Thailand, East Timor and Zika detected Southeastern countries.

There is no vaccine or treatment for mosquito-borne infection, which shows no symptoms on an estimated 80 percent of people.

The infection causes neurological disorders in adults, including rare Guillain-Barre syndrome.

TRTWorld and agencies