China confirms first case of Zika virus

Fears of pandemic grow as more cases of the virus are confirmed in China and across Europe
<p>(Image credit: Sanofi Pasteur)</p>

(Image credit: Sanofi Pasteur)

China has confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in one of its nationals who had travelled back from Venezuela, said state news site Xinhua on February 9. 

The 34-year-old man from Ganxian county, Jiangxi province, had recently returned from a trip showing symptoms of fever, headache and dizziness. 

The virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, has caused alarm after being linked to rise in cases of microcephaly – a congenital condition associated with maldevelopment of the brain – in South America. 

In response, the World Health Organisation has called for urgency in finding a vaccine and better diagnostics, and warned the world to be alert.

The Chinese patient stopped in Hong Kong and Shenzhen before returning to his hometown on February 5. 

China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) confirmed that the man’s condition is now stable and that his body temperature has returned to normal. He is now being quarantined and treated in a hospital in Ganxian. 

The Chinese health commission played down the risk of further outbreaks, saying that the likelihood of the virus spreading due to this imported case is, “extremely low due to low temperature”. 

Hong Kong authorities have increased inspections at the airport in response, and reinforced training for boundary control inspectors, the report added.

The WHO estimates that up to four million cases of Zika will be recorded in the Americas over the next 12 months. About 80% of those infected do not exhibit symptoms but when they do appear, patients notice fever, a red rash, and conjunctivitis.

Four cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the UK in the last six weeks. Public Health England has told a parliamentary committee all four cases were "travel associated" and not transmitted in Britain.

Italy has confirmed nine cases of the Zika virus in the country, of which four were registered in northern Veneto region, local media reported on Friday.

See here for a full report on climate change and the Zika virus on Diálogo Chino.

And here for an article on Zika fears could ruin Rio Olympics.