The first case of the mosquito-borne virus in the southeast Asian country, state-owned Myanmar, a pregnant foreign woman in Myanmar’s largest city Yangon has been diagnosed with Zika. The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned earlier this month that Zika was likely to spread throughout Asia after being detected in 70 countries, including at least 19 in the Asia Pacific region. Zika has spread to some 60countries and territories since the current outbreak was identified last year in Brazil, raising alarm over the rare birth defect microcephaly as well as other neurological disorders it can cause in infants and adults.
Information Ministry spokesman Myint Kyaw told it was the first Zika case confirmed in Myanmar. Two Myanmar citizens, one living in Singapore and one in Thailand, were identified as infected with the virus in September.
Brazil has been the country hardest hit so far, with more than 1,900 reported cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small heads that can lead to developmental problems.
Singapore and Thailand – Southeast Asia’s most affected countries – have recorded a total of about 800 cases of Zika, including dozens of pregnant women.
There is no treatment or vaccine for Zika infection. Companies and scientists are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine for Zika, but a preventative shot is not expected to be ready for widespread use for at least two or three years.