The virus that so far has only been affecting some countries in South America is now expected to infect Asia soon, experts say. Hong Kong in particular is already warned to make the necessary preparations in anticipation of the Zika virus.
According to South China Morning Post, both the mosquito species that transmit Zika virus can be found in Asia. Hong Kong’s increasing warmth and intensifying rainfalls per year also make the city a hotspot for mosquitos to breed.
This was how the virus spread on a global scale.
Previous findings about the virus explained that it posed no big threat to the health of an infected person (symptoms, if any, include a rash and fever), except that if a person is pregnant during infection then her baby may develop microcephaly, a condition in which the baby’s brain is smaller than normal. Now, reports have surfaced linking the virus to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease that causes progressive paralysis and eventually death.
But what worries health officials the most is the fact that a majority of those infected with Zika show no symptoms at all, making it almost impossible to detect early on. Current tests for diagnosis are slow and expensive but scientists in Brazil are presently working to create an affordable and effective new test.
In the meantime, Hong Kong’s public health sector urges its citizens to follow certain protocols to avoid the spread of infection. For example, if one has recently travelled to Zika-positive countries, he or she is not allowed to donate blood nor have sexual intercourse without a condom for 28 days. One must also continue to wear mosquito repellent for 14 days after visiting affected areas. It is now also required by law to report any cases of the disease within the city to the Department of Health.
Hong Kong’s public health system is also currently having difficulty dealing with a surge in flu patients. However, health officials say that should there be a Zika virus outbreak in the city, they are confident that only a small portion of those infected would require hospitalisation. That is why it is more important than ever to take heed of the precautionary measures one needs to take in order to avoid being infected, especially since the consequences can be quite serious.
In anticipation of a crisis, it’s always best to be prepared. Make sure that you and your family’s health insurance situations are taken care of and that in the event of severe complications from the Zika virus, your and your family’s medical care will be covered.
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