China / Society

China’s first Zika patient recuperating

By Zhao Xu (China Daily) Updated: 2016-02-12 03:04

The male patient who is China’s first case of the Zika virus has recovered, according to Jiangxi province’s Health and Family Planning Commission.

His symptoms, including fever, headache and dizziness, have subsided and the patient is recuperating. No one who has been in touch with the patient has shown any signs of infection, sources with the commission said.

The patient, who is age 34, had traveled to Venezuela and showed symptoms of fever, headache and dizziness on Jan 28, before returning to his hometown at Ganxian county of Jiangxi province, via Hong Kong and Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

Aggressive measures have been taken since the case was discovered. Anti-infection and epidemic experts rushed to Ganxian to help set up treatment centers and educate locals on how to prevent a breakout.

However, according to experts from the National Health and Family Planning Commission, thanks to low temperatures, the chance of the virus further spreading as a result of this imported case is extremely low.

The disease is believed to be transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a species widely found in South China and in some northern parts of the country. Therefore, a major part of Zika prevention focuses on the elimination of mosquitoes, said officials from the Jiangxi provincial commission.

At the moment, steps have been taken to kill the mosquitoes in and around the patient’s home and the hospital in Ganxian where he has been quarantined and treated since Feb 6.

Keeping in mind the coming spring season, a time for mosquito elimination and epidemic control, experts from both the provincial and the national levels are working on a new, more effective plan.

A pilot field study using mosquitoes infected with bacteria is expected to be launched in South China, probably in March, according to Xi Zhiyong, a microbiology professor at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University who heads the study.

The move is aimed at reducing the local mosquito population, which could pass the Zika virus to humans, said Xi, who heads the study.

Xi said the researchers only release male mosquitoes, which don’t bite. The eggs produced by females mating with Wolbachia-infected males are infertile, which leads to reduced mosquito populations. Last year, the team lowered the mosquito population by 90 percent during a trial using this method.

The World Health Organization has recommended studies of genetically engineered mosquitoes and those infected with bacteria to help reduction efforts.

The Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas. Besides fever, headache and dizziness, symptoms include joint pain, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and eye pain.

The United States has reported a sexually transmitted Zika case, but the WHO said the case needs further investigation. Besides the imported Zika case, no other case has been eported in China so far.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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