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Thursday, August 25, 2016, 22:44

HK records first case of Zika virus infection

By Luis Liu

HK records first case of Zika virus infection
A 38-year-old female foreign national who lives in Tseung Kwan O was tested positive for Zika fever on Thursday after being bitten by mosquitoes while visiting Saint-Barthelemy Island in the Caribbean.

The Zika virus has been linked to severe birth defects and is confirmed to be transmitted by mosquitoes.

The woman suffered from joint pains since last Saturday and went to a private hospital for treatment on Tuesday — one day after she came back to Hong Kong.

She was later taken into the United Christian Hospital for isolated treatment on Thursday night after a blood test confirmed her infection. The hospital is mosquito free, according to the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection Leung Ting-hung.

Three family members were with her during the trip to the Caribbean island. But they have not shown related symptoms.

According to Leung, the woman works in Central and had been to some places in the New Territories and Clear Water Bay.

The authorities will conduct a mosquito killing operation today (Friday) in a 500 meter radius around her residence, work place and other places she visited.

A city-wide intensive mosquito prevention campaign, launched a week ago, will continue to October, according to Lee Ming-wai, pest control officer in charge at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Leung said the epidemic area of the Zika virus had moved northward on the South American continent. Hong Kong receives over 100,000 visitors from this affected area annually, added Leung.

He urged residents to stay alert and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when traveling in these places.

Previously the health authority confirmed that seven out of the 22 Zika virus infection cases detected so far on the mainland passed through Hong Kong. No local infection has been recorded since.

A local spread of the virus is possible as asymptomatic infection is common and a potential vector, the mosquito Aedes albopictus, is present locally, Leung said.

Other countries in the region including the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, home to about 2 million visitors to Hong Kong a year, have been upgraded to Level 2 alert for Zika virus by the World Health Organization. Hong Kong as a regional hub should be aware of the risks, Leung said.

So far nearly 80,000 Zika infection cases have been confirmed in Brazil and the estimated total in the country exceeds 170,000.

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