I was thinking about the next viral post to write about, when my sister suggested I write about Zika. It's been one week since Patient Zero was found in Singapore, and I remember that fateful day as my colleague was activated while we were out having dinner and drinks. I wanted to get said colleague to guest write this entry, but as she's a private person, I whatsapped her instead. Here is how that conversation went down.
1. 80% of infected patients have no symptoms, so the number of Singaporeans infected with Zika could be 4-5 times higher than that reported.
Courtesy of WHO.
The 4 major symptoms of Zika are fever, muscle pain, joint pain, red eyes and a skin rash. 80% of Zika infections result in no symptoms, although these infected people can still spread the infection if a female Aedes mosquito bites them and someone else. This means that the number of infected cases may in reality be 4 to 5 times the total number detected so far.
To date there has already been a total of 215 reported cases, including two pregnant women.
2. There's a high chance that Zika has already spread outside of the Bedok and Sims Drive/Aljunied Crescent cluster.
Courtesy of Straits Times.
Even though The Ministry of Health and National Environment Agency has taken every necessary measure to contain the outbreak, the prime minister has warned that the Zika virus could very well have spread outside of these two clusters .
The long term solution to Zika is therefore not isolation of the symptomatic patients who are diagnosed, but mosquito control and eradication. Our National Environment Agency has been doing just that, with its plan in October this year to release male Aedes mosquitos that render the female mosquito sterile.
3. Singaporeans are not freaking out, thanks to the press.
Mass hysteria in Hougang generated by Pokemon Go, not Zika.
Actually everyone has been pretty nice and chill.
I think Straits Times is doing a good job of informing the public.
4. Zika generates a lot of paperwork, and outbreaks are updated 24/7.
We have to notify MOH by calling this guy 24/7. On the first day he was getting called every hour. It's generating a lot of paperwork.
So for the public - Rest assured that your doctor is on his toes when it comes to notifying the authorities about new Zika outbreaks!
5. Zika is not just transmitted via mosquitoes, but sex too.
We tell everyone that you must have protected sex for 6 months in men, and 2 months in women.
Why 6 months in men, but 2 months for women?
CDC has the answer: "Detection of Zika virus RNA in semen has been reported up to 93 days after illness onset. Current evidence suggests that Zika virus persists longer in semen than in other body fluids, including vaginal fluids, urine, and blood. The longer precautionary period recommended for men with Zika takes into consideration the fact that Zika can persist in the semen of infected men after they have recovered from illness."
6. Zika cannot be spread through breastfeeding.
The WHO recommends that the benefits of breastfeeding outweighs the risks.
7. The real problem with Zika? No army boys in 2035. Also, it's a really bad time to be an IVF doctor in Singapore right now.
"You know I really think our birth rate for the next couple of years is dead. No one is gonna want to have kids for at least 2 years. I mean, would you?"
"What's MOH's stance. Did they advise Singaporeans not to get pregnant, like Brazil has done?"
No, they are leaving it to personal choice.
"But to date we know that microcephaly is only isolated to Brazilian babies, and no one born outside of Brazil has got a small head right?"
Yes. People have also postulated that the strain we have got in Singapore is a distinct Asian strain.
"Okay so to get things straight - even though the risk of birth defects is low, we can't sell to the public not to have kids - Singaporeans will become extinct. Neither can we afford to get sued when an unlucky kid turns out to have a defect."
Yeah we're screwed.
What a bad time to be an IVF specialist indeed.
8. To insect repellant hoarding Singaporeans and Carousel black-marketeers out there, spare a thought for your poor doctor.
I have lots of stories to tell you though, being at the forefront of this Zika outbreak without any repellent. It's sold out everywhere. Dr XX said she saw one lady buy 10 bottles at once.
"Wait so you don't use repellant? What kind of precautionary measures do you guys use then?"
Safe sex yo. Just kidding.
9. Those causeway vehicle checks didn't quite work out..
With credit to MGAG.
We have successfully exported Zika to Malaysia. The patient had returned to Malaysia from Singapore after visiting his daughter, and came down with Zika himself a week later.