Sep 5, 2016

Singapore's Zika cases send warning signal to Asia

Emiko Jozuka
How Zika is spreading in Asia Pacific. Image: CNN
How Zika is spreading in Asia Pacific. Image: CNN

In just one week, Zika cases in Singapore have gone from zero to 258, raising concerns about a potential rapid surge in cases across Asia.

A recent study estimates that roughly 2.6 billion people in the region and Africa could be at risk of contracting the virus, which has been linked to the neurological disorder microcephaly in unborn babies.

It's not yet clear why Zika has spread so suddenly in Singapore. Many of the cases are thought to be locally-transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

On Saturday, Singapore's Ministry of Health said analysis of two cases found they had likely evolved from a strain of Zika that was already circulating in Southeast Asia. Malaysia confirmed its first case of Zika infection in a 58-year-old woman -- who had visited her daughter in Singapore -- on September 1. The country reported its first locally-transmitted case on September 3, with authorities expecting more to come