MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Health reported on Tuesday, September 13, that two more people in Iloilo City tested positive for Zika virus, based on results done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
The two live in the same household as the "index case" – the 45-year-old woman announced last week as the first confirmed case of locally-transmitted Zika virus in 2016.
They acquired the virus through mosquito bites, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial told reporters on Tuesday.
But unlike the index case who had skin rash, joint pains, and red eyes, the two other cases only showed mild skin rash.
"All 3 cases have since recovered from their very mild illness and did not require hospitalization," Ubial said, adding that they no longer show signs and symptoms of the virus as of Tuesday.
The age, sex, and relationship of the new cases were not revealed "to protect the privacy of the patients."
The health department tested a total of 12 people who were contacts, neighbors, and household companions of the index case. Only two of them tested positive.
The patients are still under home quarantine, and local health officials are monitoring their blood and urine.
Zika, which resembles a light case of the flu, is transmitted by mosquito species found in tropical and sub-tropical regions: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, or tiger mosquitoes.
The disease is strongly suspected of causing birth defects such as microcephaly and other brain deformities in newborns.
But Ubial said none of those who've tested positive are pregnant.
Local case finding
Authorities visited 88 households around and near the residence of the confirmed cases. Ubial said most of the containers identified as mosquito breeding sites were positive for larvae of Aedes aegypti.
This calls for heightened vector control in the area, the health secretary said.
"We are monitoring pregnant women. I instructed the regional office to give them insecticide-treated bed nets to use during night time, and not to put it down during day time," she explained.
Local health officials have distributed information, education, and communication materials for Zika awareness. The international airport in Panay has also heightened its alert in screening incoming travelers to identify travel-associated Zika virus.
The RITM currently has only 2,500 test kits. Ubial said they can also provide other areas with test kits if it has been established that there has been local spread of the Zika virus. – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.