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IMR Test Zika Strain In Sarawak Sisters – Subramanian

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KUCHING – The Institute for Medical Research is conducting tests to ascertain the Zika virus strain in two infected Sarawakian sisters, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

A 35-year-old pregnant woman in Miri and her 39-year-old sister in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, were the confirmed fifth and sixth cases of the disease in the country.

Dr Subramaniam said the IMR was trying to determine whether the strain of virus was a local one or that from French Polynesia.

He said the Miri woman had gone to Singapore in July but it was too long ago to have become infected now.

A check by the Miri Division Health Office showed the area where she lived in Miri had many breeding sites of the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the Zika virus as well as the Dengue virus, he told reporters on the sidelines of the 41st Annual Dermatology Conference 2016 here last night.

“She visited Singapore in July. The time between her trip and infection is too long for Zika unless, because she is pregnant, the manifestation was later. These are the things which we are looking at,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said the elder woman had visited her sister in Miri on Aug 26 and had returned to Kuala Lumpur on Sept 6.

“So, that could be one factor which contributed to the spread of the virus. Obviously, a mosquito bites one sister and then bites the other; so that’s most probably how the other got infected,” he said.

On another matter, Dr Subramaniam said the Health Ministry would hold discussions with the National Fatwa Council by the end of this month on a unified stand of whether to allow Zika-infected pregnant women to abort their babies.

“We will give them (the council) the medical and scientific input. They have to use that and decide on the religious component,” he said.

Zika-infected pregnant women face the risk of giving birth to babies with microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. – BERNAMA

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