Health officials in Thailand announced earlier today that they were monitoring four cases of suspected microcephaly in children, possibly caused by the Zika virus. According to Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, three newborn babies have been diagnosed with smaller-than-average heads. In the fouth case, a future mother pregnant in her 36th week, the medics said the fetus also presented an abnormally small head for his age, after investigating the pregnancy through ultrasounds. All four mothers are among 33 pregnant women in Thailand, under surveillance for any birth defects linked to the Zika virus.
Only two of the four women have been diagnosed with Zika, having contracted the virus while pregnant. According to the head of Thailand’s disease control office, Amnuay Gajeena, the virus was not contracted in the Kingdom’s capital.
“It is not in Bangkok. Both the mothers and babies are being tested and we have sent the tests to several labs,” said Mr. Amnuay.
Thailand’s minister of public health, Piyasakon Sakolsatayadorn said the investigation is a complex one and stressed that it will be thoroughly carried in order to eliminate any possible misreadings.
“The lab results will take at least two days because we have to be thorough with this as it is a big deal and a link hasn’t been detected before. This is a sensitive matter for Thailand,” said Mr. Piyasakon.
If microcephaly in one of the four suspected cases will be linked to Zika, Thailand will become the first such case in Southeast Asia. In the past months, Thailand had a surge of Zika-related cases, with 349 confirmed since January, among them dozens pregnant women. Other countries in the region confront themselves with an outbreak of Zika infections. The Philippines now has 12 confirmed cases of Zika virus, after 3 new cases were identified by the Department of Health, while in Singapore, the local Environment Agency announced today there were 393 cases of Zika in the city-state.