In September 2016, an officer was spotted at the Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, in Bangkok, thoroughly spraying pesticides with the goal of eliminating mosquitoes that carry the perilous Zika virus, a scene captured by Patipat Janthong.
Indeed, Zika virus, a highly contagious disease majorly transmitted by mosquitoes, has been a recurring health worry in Thailand. The Public Health Ministry has reported that since the commencement of the year till July 19, 110 people have been diagnosed with this virus in 20 different provinces of the country. This report, made by Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the standing secretary for public health, indicates that the virus is increasingly spreading with 30 reported cases in June itself.
Lamentably, the virus is not sparing anyone. A total of six pregnant women from five distinct provinces, which include Chanthaburi, Phitsanulok, Rayong, Samut Songkhram, and Trat, have contracted the virus in July. It’s more alarming considering that the virus may escalate the risk of miscarriages or induce the birth defect known as microcephaly—an abnormality causing reduced head size in newborns, warned Dr Opas.
He further shed light on the relentless pursuit of health officials in monitoring the health conditions of 241 pregnant women who fell victim to the Zika virus between the years 2016 and 2022. According to him, among these patients, four miscarriages have occurred while three have given birth to babies diagnosed with microcephaly, all testing positive for the Zika virus. Additionally, an observation of 77 children over a period of two years revealed four cases of abnormal development.
Further progress in the monitoring and examination of health conditions led to the clinical surveillance of 2,187 newborns, out of which three cases displayed abnormalities associated with Zika. Close monitoring for child development in four of these instances yielded three occurrences of developmental abnormalities.
Dr Opas also warns that Zika has been found prevalent among pregnant women this year, spreading across all regions of the country. Specially mentioning areas prone to dengue fever outbreaks, he orders provincial health offices to conduct thorough health screenings for local patients, emphasizing particularly on pregnant women exhibiting any symptoms like rashes, fever, joint pain, or pink eye.
In an attempt to combat the increasing spread of Zika virus, health volunteers are being guided to mobilize the public in eliminating potential breeding grounds of mosquito larvae within their communities. This collective effort aims at attacking the issue at its root and preventing future infection cases.