Hong Kong is now investigating its first case of a Zika virus infection after an expat who reportedly traveled to the Caribbean this month tested positive for the virus.
The patient, a 38-year-old woman, is now in stable condition and under constant monitoring at the United Christian Hospital in Kwun Tong. She was placed in a separate ward used to isolate patients, reported South China Morning Post.
The woman works at the International Finance Centre and resides at Lohas Park in Tseung Kwan O. Her medical records show that she has sustained good health in the past until suddenly developing symptoms such as red eyes and joint pains last Saturday.
After a medical check-up at the Matilda Medical Centre in Central on Tuesday, it was later revealed that her blood and urine samples both tested positive for the virus. The hospital later announced the several infection control measures it plans to implement following the discovery of the virus.
The Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection, which was informed of the patient’s condition, immediately came to her assistance. She initially declined to cooperate, however, and the local police had to be called in.
The patient is assumed to have been bitten by mosquitoes while she was on tour with her family on the Caribbean island of Saint-Barthelemy from August 6 to August 20. They all returned to Hong Kong on August 22. The other members of her family did not exhibit the same symptoms.
In response to the discovery of the first infection in Hong Kong, its Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced that it would conduct an anti-mosquito operation in Tseung Kwan O, Central, Clear Water Bay and other areas the patient had been to since her arrival.
Centre for Health Protection controller Dr Leung Ting-hung said in a statement:
“We will report the case to the World Health Organisation and continue to maintain close liaison with the WHO as well as overseas, neighboring health authorities to closely monitor the latest developments.”
According to the World Health Organisation, the Zika virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, a species originally found only in tropical and subtropical zones, but now found on all continents except Antarctica. Symptoms of the viral disease, which usually last for 2-7 days, include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joints.
In Asia, several countries have reported cases of the virus, including India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam Pakistan and China.
In the Americas, the outbreak of Zika began in April 2015 in Brazil and spread to other countries in South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Earlier this year, WHO projected that the virus is likely to spread throughout most of the Americas by the end of the year.