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Asia Minute: Zika Virus Gets Regional Attention

Pixabay Commons
Pixabay Commons

The number of dengue fever cases in Hawai‘i is approaching 250, while state health officials also monitor developments of the Zika virus.  Both conditions are carried by mosquitoes—and the Zika virus is getting close attention this week across the Asia Pacific.  HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The Zika virus has focused attention on mosquitoes: a familiar topic in Indonesia.  Dengue, malaria, yellow fever and other insect-borne afflictions have long been part of Indonesia’s public health challenges…and are more common than the Zika virus.

Indonesian health officials have confirmed one case of Zika virus so far.  Thailand also has a single confirmed case.  The health minister says “there is no need to panic”…noting that since 2012, Thailand has had a few cases—“averaging not more than five a year.”

The Philippines reported one case of Zika virus in 2012—but officials say there are no current infections.  Japanese officials say no one has contracted the virus in Japan, but three travelers returning from Southeast Asia have been diagnosed with it. 

In China, the state-run People’s Daily reports the risk of Zika transmission is relatively low for most of the country during the winter months, but travel agencies and immigration officials are “on high alert.”  And in South Korea, inspections are moving beyond people.  The government announced Wednesday that all lumber coming into the country will be sterilized upon arrival—to prevent mosquito larvae in trees from entering the country.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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