ALT TAGTACLOBAN CITY, Sept. 9 (PNA) –- The Department of Health (DOH) has 2,000 kits available for testing of Zika virus and the government is bracing to import more kits amid its continued threat in the country.

“We don’t really test people because it’s very expensive. What we do is catch mosquitoes and test if they are carriers of Zika virus,” said Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial on the sidelines of the inauguration of Mother and Child Hospital of the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center in this city on Thursday.

“The DOH only tests those people with symptoms. We test them for Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika.”

According to DOH, testing kits for Zika virus are not available commercially and only research centers such as Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States has it.

The health department bared their preparation activities for the mosquito-borne disease after a 45-year-old woman from Iloilo City has tested positive for Zika virus, the sixth case recorded in the country.

She is the first Zika virus positive among 127 people tested this year for manifesting symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease.

The woman, according to Ubial, has no history of travel abroad, adding that she probably acquired the virus locally.

“Scientists in Research Institute for Tropical Medicine have some hypothesis that the virus might have been here, but we have not noticed it in the past because of high dengue cases,” Ubial explained.

Ubial told the public not to panic because Zika is mild compared to dengue.

The virus becomes alarming when it affects women during pregnancy as it may cause birth defects involving the nervous system, including microcephaly, a condition where the brain of the baby is not fully developed and small.

The DOH reminds the public to remember and use “4S” against Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. The 4S means search and destroy mosquito breeding places, use self-protection measures, seek early consultation for fever lasting more than two days, and say yes to fogging when there is an impending outbreak. (PNA)
Sarwell Q. Meniano