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Thailand considers free Zika test for all pregnant women

The Thai Health Ministry said yesterday that it is considering providing free-of-charge tests for all pregnant women for Zika.

Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reports that this is following the confirmation last week of its first detected cases of microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size linked to Zika.

Sophon Mekthon, the Health Ministry’s permanent secretary, said the country checks pregnant women in Zika-affected areas only with about 1,000 pregnant women tested so far.

A Zika test costs 2,000 Thai Baht (US$58) but repeat tests are often needed, he added.

Two cases of microcephaly confirmed by the country’s health ministry on Sept 30 are the first in South-East Asia linked to Zika.

Currently, many countries in South-East Asia reported Zika cases and Thailand recorded the highest infections with 349 cases, including 25 pregnant women.

Heath authorities in the region said they are stepping up monitoring, but there has been little testing.

The Zika virus is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Sexual transmission of the virus has been also reported.

People with Zika virus disease often display symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly in newborn babies or other health problems.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly was firstly discovered in Brazil last year.

Zika virus vaccines are not discovered yet.

- Bernama

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