Vietnam raises Zika alert after Australian tourist returns home sick

By Lien Chau, Thanh Nien News

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Random blood tests in Vietnam have not found the Zika virus. Photo credit: Shutterstock Random blood tests in Vietnam have not found the Zika virus. Photo credit: Shutterstock


Vietnam’s health ministry has raised the alert level for Zika vrus after an Australian tourist tested positive for the virus after coming home from Vietnam.
Tran Dac Phu, head of the preventive health department at the health ministry, told local media it was informed by the World Health Organization that the Australian national developed Zika symptoms including high fever, rashes, headache, muscle pains and nausea on March 8, two days after leaving Vietnam.
Tests later confirmed the infection of the virus, which has an incubation period of between three to 12 days.
The person arrived in Vietnam on February 26 and traveled through Ho Chi Minh City and the central provinces of Lam Dong, Khanh Hoa and Binh Thuan.
The identity, gender and age of the patient have not been revealed.
Phu said Vietnam’s health ministry has ordered officials to shore up surveillance, especially in the areas the tourist went through.
He said the ministry is still working closely with WHO and Australian authorities to determine whether the person was infected in or outside Vietnam.
“We might already be facing the presence of the virus,” he said.
Global outbreak 
Vietnam has taken random blood samples in the community. More than 200 samples came back negative for the Zika virus in February.
Aedes aegypti mosquito has been identified as the main vector of the 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 59 countries and territories, including many in the region such as Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea.
Australia has reported dozens of cases.
Brazil, Venezuela and Columbia each has linked three deaths to the Zika virus.
Brazil has also confirmed 907 cases of microcephaly and 198 babies with the birth defect who have died since October last year, AFP reported.

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