The baby born with suspected Zika-linked microcephaly in Dak Lak province (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – A delegation from the Ministry of Health has arrived in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak to inspect the suspected Zika-linked microcephaly case reported earlier in the locality, an official said on October 20.

Director of the ministry’s Department of Preventive Medicine Tran Dac Phu said the baby was born with smaller-than-normal head. However, there can be a number of causes, including the infection of rubella, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, intoxication, malnutrition, and genetic factors.

Before Zika-linked diseases occurred, there were cases of children born with abnormally small heads, he added.

Therefore, the study and analysis of health and disease conditions is important to define the cause of the microcephaly, he said, adding that health workers took blood and urine samples of the patient and other family members for further examination.

The National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology is testing the samples.

Regarding the two additional microcephaly cases reported in Dak Lak, Phu said the health ministry has entrusted the Central Highland Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology to make investigation.

He noted that the two children were born with small heads long time ago and they are getting old, so it is unlikely to link the cases with the Zika virus.

According to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long, the ministry raised the warning level for the Zika virus as many cases have been reported, with five in October alone.

The health ministry’s supervision system also discovered a four-month-old baby in Krong Buk district, Dak Lak, born malformed with an unusually small head, and suspected to be caused by Zika.

Zika is mainly transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever. The virus causes only mild symptoms in most, including fever, sore eyes and a rash. But pregnant women infected with the virus risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly.

As of October 17, seven cases of Zika infection were confirmed in the central provinces of Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen, Binh Duong province and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

Research showed that risk of microcephaly is about 1-10 percent of infants born to mothers who become infected with the virus during their first trimester of pregnancy.

To prevent the spread of Zika virus, especially among pregnant women and infants, the health ministry suggested not traveling to areas with ongoing Zika outbreaks.

Pregnant women who have traveled to or are living in Zika-hit areas, and are experiencing fever or rash, should go to health centers to get medical advice and check-ups.-VNA