Thailand Says No Need To Panic Over Zika Virus

February 3, 2016 – The risk of the Zika virus causing an epidemic in Thailand is very low, according to the Thai Health Ministry, although the Southeast Asian kingdom has so far recorded the highest number of infections in the region.

“We stress the need for the public to understand and take preventive measures, but not to panic. People need to be aware of the Zika virus and the on-going epidemic in South America,” said Dr Nipon Chinanonwait, the director of the Bureau of Vector Borne Disease, Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health.

“There is a chance for the disease to spread here by mosquitoes. People can also get infected here but there is no epidemic yet.”

Since 2012, Thailand has reported nine cases of Zika infection which is linked to severe neurological condition called microcephaly, with an average of 2-5 tourists contracting the virus in Thailand each year.

The latest confirmed case was a 20-year-old Thai male who was admitted to a hospital in the capital Bangkok on January 24. The patient has been discharged.

According to health officials, the virus is rarely fatal; patients usually recover within a week, making detection difficult.

However, an article published last year in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene showed Thailand is among countries that see “a widespread distribution” of the virus.

“Currently, there is no vaccine for the disease; it is best that we take preventive measures to reduce the risk of epidemic in the future,” Dr Nipon advised.

The Zika virus has been in existence for at least six decades. Thailand first recorded a case of Zika infection in 2012. However, no case of microcephaly has been reported in the country.