Thailand health ministry confirms 2 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly

The health ministry says the number of Zika virus cases are stable in Thailand.

Thailand: Health ministry confirms 2 cases of Zika-linked microcephaly
Mariam Araujo, plays with Lucas, her second child and born with microcephaly as they wait for a physiotherapy Reuters

Thailand health ministry confirmed on Friday that Zika has led to two cases causing of microcephaly, a medical condition that leads to small heads among newborn babies. This is the first time that microcephaly had been linked to Zika in Southeast Asia.

"To summarise we have found two cases of small heads linked to Zika, the first cases in Thailand," Prasert Thongcharoen, an adviser to the Department of Disease Control, told Reuters in Bangkok.

Recently, the public health ministry of Thailand said it was investigating four suspected cases of Zika-related microcephaly in three babies and a 37-week-old unborn baby.

Microcephaly is an effect of the Zika virus which can be passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947. The World Health Organisation said people infected with Zika can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms of Zika normally last for two to seven days.

Earlier this month, the authorities said Thailand has recorded about 200 cases of Zika virus infection since January, making it a country with one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases in the region.

"Since January, we have recorded about 200 cases and over the past three weeks, we have confirmed an average of 20 new cases per week," Ministry of Public Health spokesman Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai said.

He added that the number of cases was stable.

Singapore reported the first case of locally transmitted Zika virus on August 27 but the number of reported infections has crossed 300 till date.

Apart from Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines have also reported Zika virus cases.

Researchers say the virus that is affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean has been circulating in Asia for years but the lineage of the virus in Asia is different to those in America.