Zika Virus in Malaysia - Should tourists be worried? Well, as the world now goes into serious precaution, the Malaysian Health Ministry has confirmed that to date (5 Feb 2016), there have been no cases reported and precautionary measures have been placed throughout the country. Malaysian health officials also held a special meeting on 2 Feb on how to handle the virus, after the World Health Organisation declared it an international public health emergency.
For tourist coming to Malaysia, you should also take additional precautions, especially when traveling anywhere in the country by wearing clothes that cover the whole body and constantly using insect repellent.
In the country, the health ministry tested 293 blood samples from local patients who showed symptoms of dengue fever but tested negative for the Zika virus. This was done up to 3 Feb 2016. The Health Ministry also announced that it would be monitoring health clinics and hospitals for signs of infected patients or cases of microcephaly, a condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that experts believe is linked to Zika.
|Zika Virus Country Chart, image by Statista|
The Zika virus has been around for over 60 years but it has gone global over the past few weeks in late January 2016 with the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that it has "explosive pandemic potential". Zika is a mosquito-borne disease that has symptoms similar to the dengue and chikungunya viruses. Transmission is currently active in several countries across the Americas, Pacific islands and Cape Verde.
On the recent world news, Spain has just confirmed that a pregnant woman has been diagnosed with the Zika virus, marking the first such case in Europe just this 5th February 2016. Other European countries including Ireland and Denmark have reported infections but Spain is the first case involving a pregnant woman.
|Zika Virus Information - Provided by the WHO|
Malaysia Zika Virus News
• For some really shocking news, the Zika Virus was found in Malaysia in 1969, according to The Star newspaper from Malaysia 2 Feb 2016.
• Channel News Asia ran a story that No Reports of Zika Virus in Malaysia dated 3 Feb 2016.
• Malaysia Health Ministry Issues Travel Advisory for 26 countries 3 Feb 2016.
• Precautionary measures taken by Malaysia against Zika Virus - 3 Feb 2016.
• In a recent report from AsiaOne News, a positive case of Zika Virus was found in Sumetra, Indonesia dated 5 Feb 2016.
• The Borneo Post also ran a story on South America Holds a Meeting on the Zika Virus Spread dated 5 Feb 2016.
|Some of the mosquito repellent products available in Malaysia|
Prevention for the Zika Virus in Malaysia
The best mosquito repellents to use can be those off the shelf, but I would recommend the local made ones found in local drug stores and pharmacies around Malaysia. They also come in the form of sprays, roll on's, patches, wristbands and also mosquito vape units that can be plugged into any socket. After all, precaution is better than cure so that extra money spent on these repellents can be used throughout your travels.
|Antimos mosquito repellent|
When I travel, my personal favorite mosquito repellent is Antimos, which is a gel type container that keeps the mosquito away, especially when I am traveling anywhere around southeast Asia as I always have this in my backpack.
What I do is simply open the cover and place it nearby when I stop, or when I am moving, I keep it in the outer pocket of my backpack where it is exposed around me. I also carry two of them just in case.
The good news is that Malaysia is currently safe from the Zika Virus and to date, there have been no cases reported or detected, therefore any visitors coming into the country should take extra precautions no matter where you visit in Malaysia.
Travelers should also know that Southeast Asia is prone to the Aedes mosquito and it can be found at all countries therefore, travelers should be prepared when visiting these countries as the mosquito does not only live in the jungle but also in the towns and cities. Malaysia for one has been doing a lot of mosquito fogging and Aedes awareness over the year and since the latest news, the authorities have been doing triple work to prevent the Zika Virus in Malaysia.