DOH urges public to have free Zika test

The Department of Health is urging the public to avail free Zika test in health centers or hospitals if they feel any of the Zika virus symptoms.

Those who are experiencing fever, conjunctivitis, joint pains, and rashes, symptoms which are commonly displayed by  Zika, dengue, and chikungunya are encouraged to take free Zika test.

According to Secretary Paulyn Ubial, the tests is free. “They don’t have to pay for it because it is part of our campaign to actually map out the possible areas where Zika is transmitting,” she told ANC’s Headstart with Karen Davila Wednesday.

Free Zika test is provided to map whether the previously reported Zika case has risen.

Reported previously, DOH has confirmed 12 casws of Zika in the country this year; ten were from Iloilo, one in Cebu which is a pregnant woman and one in Muntinlupa in Metro Manila.

Zika is usually not life-threatening but has been linked to a rise in birth defects in other countries, where hundreds of babies have been born with unusually small heads or microcephaly in recent years. However, Ubial said, not all Zika-infected pregnant women will automatically give birth to microcephalic babies.

“Right now, the incidence or prevalence rate of microcephaly is actually not all…It’s about less than 5%,” she said, adding that not all babies born with microcephaly would have significant brain damage or mental retardation.

Nevertheless, she emphasized their request to all pregnant women to see their doctors to assess the risks. For non-pregnant cases, meanwhile, she said there are no known significant long-term effects of the virus.

“It’s a self-limiting illness, so you’ll recover, and most the illnesses do not need hospitalization. It’s very mild,” she said.

Ubial said, the current theory is that the Zika has been locally transmitted since its discovery among human population in 1953, but testing for dengue and chikungunya has been prioritized.

“Since we didn’t test for Zika, we don’t know if it’s happening or the spread in the world. When microcephaly cases were reported in Africa—that’s where it started—then people started to be alarmed and alerted,” she said. “We started testing in the rest of the world, and Brazil reported a lot of cases of microcephaly. That again alerted the world that it’s not confined in Africa,” she added.

In 2012, the first  positive case of Zika in the Philippines was reported.

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