Potential Zika transmission in Boon Lay, pregnant women especially advised to monitor health: MOH

MOH and NEA have stepped up precautionary measures but "cannot rule out the possibility of further cases" as those infected may display mild or no symptoms.

Nigel Chua | February 22, 2024, 10:16 PM



Boon Lay Place is under close monitoring by the authorities for potential Zika transmission, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a joint press release on Feb. 22.

This comes after evidence of "persistent Zika virus signals in the area" was picked up through mosquito and wastewater testing conducted after a Zika case was reported in December 2023 at Boon Lay Place.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which is similar to dengue. It can also be passed through sex or from a pregnant woman to her foetus.

Zika is "generally a mild and self-limiting illness", but "serious neurological complications and foetal abnormalities" have been associated with Zika virus infection in rare cases, according to the MOH website on Zika.

MOH also said there is "currently no evidence" that pregnant women are more likely to get infected but warned that the consequences can be more serious for them, as the Zika virus infection "can cause microcephaly in a small number of unborn foetuses."

Areas with likely Zika transmission

MOH and NEA provided a map showing "areas with likely Zika transmission" marked in pink.

Image via MOH website.

The area includes Boon Lay Place market and food village, Boon Lay Shopping Centre, as well as several housing blocks.

The authorities said:

"We advise residents in and around the Boon Lay Place area, especially pregnant women, to protect themselves and monitor their health closely.

They should seek medical attention if unwell with Zika virus infection symptoms, which include rashes, fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and/or conjunctivitis (red eye).

They should also inform their doctors of the location of their residence and workplace."

Testing of symptomatic patients and vector control measures

The statement said MOH has alerted doctors to be vigilant and to test for Zika among patients with clinically compatible symptoms, especially for individuals residing or working in the Boon Lay area.

Symptoms of Zika virus infection include rashes, fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and/or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

There are no vaccines or specific anti-viral drugs against Zika virus infection.

The authorities said that "everyone must continue to maintain vigilance" and help prevent further transmission by eradicating mosquito breeding habitats.

The statement also outlined steps taken to control the mosquito population, including "intensive vector control operations "at the Boon Lay area since November 2023, where dengue cases have also been reported, as well as spraying of insecticides at residential premises in the vicinity.

How to protect against Zika infection

Residents, especially those residing at Zika and dengue cluster areas, are reminded to prevent mosquito bites by spraying insecticide in dark corners around the house, applying insect repellent (with DEET, picaridin or IR3535 as the active ingredient) regularly, and wearing long-sleeve tops and long pants.

Other measures include enclosing rooms or installing wire-mesh mosquito screens to prevent the entry of mosquitoes.

People with Zika virus infection are also advised to take these protection measures against mosquito bites to prevent further spread, said the authorities.

Infected men should practise safe sex or abstain from sex for at least three months after recovery to prevent sexual transmission of the Zika virus, said MOH and NEA.

If a woman is confirmed positive for Zika, she should practise safe sex or abstain from sexual intercourse for at least two months after recovery before trying to conceive, the authorities added.

The latest health advisory can also be viewed on MOH’s webpage on Zika (go.gov.sg/zika), and information on Zika cases and clusters can be found on NEA’s website (go.gov.sg/zikaclusters).

Top photo via Google Maps street view and MOH