Authorities have confirmed Hong Kong’s first case of Zika infection, prompting an alert against the mosquito-borne virus that has affected large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean this year.
A 38-year-old foreign woman who lives in Tseung Kwan O has tested positive for Zika virus after she returned to Hong Kong from a trip to a Caribbean island.
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said in a statement late Thursday that the woman sought medical treatment at the Matilda International Hospital on Tuesday after returning to the city.
She was worried as she developed symptoms such as joint pain and red eyes since last Saturday.
The woman, who works at the one of the IFC Towers in Central, had traveled to Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean where she was bitten by mosquitoes.
Matilda hospital reported Thursday that the patient’s urine and blood samples tested positive for the Zika virus, and that she has been transported to the United Christian Hospital for quarantine, CHP said.
After returning to Hong Kong, the woman is believed to have been to downtown Hong Kong and Clear Water Bay, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Dr. Leung Ting-hung, an official with the CHP, was quoted as saying that the expatriate visited Saint Barthelemy, a French-speaking island in the Caribbean, from August 6 to 20 and returned to Hong Kong via Paris and Shanghai.
She told health officials that she had been bitten by mosquitoes when she was on the island.
She refused to be quarantined at first, but CHP warned her that she would be violating the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance if she did not cooperate. She finally gave in.
Three other people who traveled to the Caribbean island with her did not show any symptoms, Leung said.
However, the CHP will require them to undergo tests just in case.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is set to conduct sterilization operations Friday at the patient’s residence and her office, according to the department’s pest control chief.
Dr Chan Fuk-woo, a clinical assistant professor at the Department of Microbiology of the University of Hong Kong, said the symptoms shown by the patient are typical of Zika virus infection, which is sometimes difficult to detect.
Authorities should now keep a close watch to determine if anyone else has contracted the infection from the patient.
Zika has wreaked havoc in some parts of Latin America and the Caribbean since an outbreak earlier this year.
The virus, for which there is no vaccine as of now, is suspected to cause microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which babies are born with smaller than normal heads and brains.
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