Vietnam collects blood samples to check for Zika after new regional infections

Thanh Nien News

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An officer monitors the temperatures of passengers at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Phuong Vy/Vietnam+ An officer monitors the temperatures of passengers at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Phuong Vy/Vietnam+

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The Pasteur Institute in Ho Chi Minh City have taken blood samples from eight locations in the southern region to check for the Zika virus, an preemptive action deemed necessary after new infections were reported in China and Thailand.
Local media reported that the leading epidemiology institute has collected 1,200 blood samples last week. The virus has been linked to microcephaly, a condition wherein babies are born with abnormally small heads. 
The institute said similar tests will also be conducted in the northern region this week.
Health officials on Tuesday said Vietnam will continue to tighten surveillance at border areas and provide more training to local medical staff to deal with possible outbreaks.
They said with new cases in Thailand and China, the virus spreading to Vietnam is “completely possible.”
Vietnam has been monitoring international arrivals through airports and all official border gates. There are around 200,000 arrivals a week.
The ministry has recommended people, especially pregnant women, refrain from traveling to affected countries, and avoid mosquito bites.
Aedes aegypti mosquito has been identified as the main vector of the Zika virus. It is also known for carrying the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses.
Zika was first detected in Africa in 1947 when it was considered a relatively mild disease until the current outbreak started in Brazil in May 2015.
The virus has since spread to 44 countries and territories. Brazil has confirmed three adults died from complications linked to the Zika virus and Venezuela has confirmed three deaths.
Brazil has also reported more than 500 cases of microcephaly, according to Reuters. The country is investigating more than 3,900 other suspected cases of microcephaly.
No vaccine or treatment is available. The World Health Organization said earlier this month it would take at least 18 months to start clinical trials on humans of candidate vaccines against Zika.

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