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Saigon Declares Health Emergency Following First Zika Cases

Officials have declared a health emergency in Ho Chi Minh City following Vietnam's first two reported cases of the Zika virus.

On April 5, national health officials announced the country's first two Zika cases, one in Nha Trang and one in Saigon. Health officials have since taken extra measures in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, including monitoring travelers' body temperatures at airports and increasing the frequency of Zika testing in hospitals.

Three days after the announcement of Vietnam's first Zika cases, Dr. Vuong Anh Tai of the HCMC Health Department declared a health emergency in the southern hub, reports VietnamNet. According to Dr. Tai, the 33-year-old pregnant woman who was initially diagnosed with Zika is now stable and has returned to work, however public health officials are asking local residents to spray mosquito-infested areas in an effort to prevent the virus' spread. Last week, municipal health officials also identified District 2 as a "hot spot" for the virus' transmission, as one of Vietnam's first Zika patients lives there.

Prior to these diagnoses, an Australian tourist was also found to have contracted Zika in March following a trip to Vietnam and several other Southeast Asian countries, though it was unclear whether the patient picked up the Zika virus in Vietnam or elsewhere.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced its own health emergency for the virus in February. Last week, the WHO also officially linked Zika with microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with small heads. Following an outbreak in Brazil, a growing number of pregnant women who had contracted the Zika virus later gave birth to children with microcephaly.

“Based on a growing body of preliminary research, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome,” the organization writes on its website.

[Photo via Flickr user Robert Andersson]

Related Articles:

Ministry of Health Confirms First 2 Zika Cases in Vietnam

Australian Patient Tests Positive for Zika After Vietnam Visit

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