Written by Rasheffa Rashid

History of Zika Virus

Zika virus which is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito is not a new born disease, it was founded in decades ago when it was first identified in Uganda 1947 in monkey (WHO, 2016) before founded in humans in 1952. According to the WHO, the virus has been among the human community but was not highlighted in the media until the first large outbreak where Zika infection cases were reported from the Islands of Yap in 2007 (WHO, 2016). Yap is an island group in the Western Pacific that is part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

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Since then, the virus spread explosively, to other Pacific Islands before it landed in Brazil, and from there spreading rapidly to South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean (Teh, 2016). The outbreak of Zika virus began in Brazil in April 2015 which later spread to South and Central America and then the Caribbean Island (Teh, 2016).

Several countries around the globe were experiencing Zika virus outbreaks. In January 2016, a level 2 travel alert was imposed for people travelling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing (Teh, 2016) especially pregnant women. The virus was spreading from one country to another, through individuals that may have been infected by virus, travelling from Zika infected nations back to their own country and others countries around the world.

A news report by Bernama on January 23, 2016, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) had said, that the virus has been reported in 23 countries over the two months since its worldwide alert in late 2015. It also said, Zika virus has spread to 13 additional countries and territories in just one month since.

Zika Symptoms:

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  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache


Zika Virus & Pregnant Women 

Unlike a normal person, the consequences of a pregnant woman are more serious, this is because as the Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly in a small number of unborn foetus of pregnant women. According to WHO’s earlier reports, there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get infected with the virus. Pregnant women with symptoms of probably infected with Zika virus are advised to seek medical attention immediately.

How Zika Virus Transmit

The Aedes mosquito-borne disease primarily is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. This is this the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever (WHO, 2016). However, what differs Zika virus from other types of diseases carried by Aedes mosquito is it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse.

 Prevention Measures:

  • People can avoid mosquito bites by wearing light coloured clothes
  • Keep the doors, and window shut, sleeping under a mosquito net
  • Apply insect repellent.
  • Keep home surroundings clean
  • Keep buckets, drums, pots, gutter and used tyres empty.


Summary of Chronology of on The Spread of Zika Virus in Singapore & Malaysia

Since the large and fast moving spread of the infectious Zika Virus in 2015, the South East Asian region has been alerted on the scare. Thus the probability of the disease transmitted into close to Malaysia country was still low but not impossible, however, the Malaysian Health Ministry were prepared at any cost to face the outbreak.

BBC on May 20 reported that Singapore declared its first imported Zika case in May. A 48-year-old local who had travelled to Brazil, where the outbreak started, got infected with the disease. Likely Malaysia as well alerted its public on the matter, according to a Bernama report on that date, Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam, advised Malaysians not to panic following the Zika threat in Singapore. He said, it was among the first few Zika cases reported in Singapore, but was claimed as an imported and isolated case. No travel restriction was imposed between the two neighbouring nations as it situation back then was still under control and no sign of the disease spreading and not an epidemic.

However, managing the large outbreak on August 28 which was more intense and gave a different implication, the Ministry of Health in Singapore confirmed 41 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection in the republic, with the victim being a 47-year-old Malaysian woman living in southeastern Singapore as the city-state’s first case of a local transmission of the virus.  Zika was spreading fast in Singapore, five days later, a Bernama report said 115 cases were confirmed of Zika virus infection.

Malaysia on the other hand, became a victim itself, when it first announced its first Zika infection case on September 1. According to the Bernama news report, the Malaysian Health Ministry said the victim, a woman from Klang was tested positive for the disease upon her return from Singapore a week before. Malaysia immediately became risk at high alert. The virus spread in late August alarmed the Singapore Ministry of Health did not rule out further community transmission in the country, as some of the Zika victims tested positive also live or work in other parts of Singapore (MOH, 2016).

The Malaysian Health Ministry at this level quickly took first preventive measures to conduct screenings at the main entrance into the country especially at the airports. Picking a Bernama news report on August 28, the Malaysian Health Ministry said, it would intensify monitoring at the two main entry points into Johor Bharu following the case of a Malaysian woman being infected by the Zika virus in Singapore. Quoting Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the report said, precautionary measures to be taken included distributing pamphlets on the prevention of Zika infection and placing paramedics at the entry points to examine tourists showing signs of the disease.

Seven days later, on September 7, a report by Bernama said, the first case involving a pregnant woman was confirmed in Malaysia. According to Datuk Seri S Subramaniam who made a press announcement, the 27-year-old woman’s last visit to Singapore was six months ago, but her husband commuted daily to his workplace in Geylang. Zika infection among pregnant woman created massive attention from the public and the media, and at a point, religious department came up with new guidelines on the possibility of abortion if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus which may result the child born having Guillain-Barré syndrome and other complications.



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Written by Natasha Sidek

According to Merriam-Webster, anti-vaccine is defined as an opposed to the use of vaccines where a handful parents and anti-vaccine activists told lawmakers on the House Health and Human Services Committee that they believe vaccines are responsible for countless cases of autism, learning disabilities and death.

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The anti-vaccination movement is a loose organised conspiracy theorist subculture which blames the medical practice of vaccinations for a wide range of health problems.

The movement, to a large majority led by people with no medical or scientific qualifications, is based largely on alleged short and long term side effects of vaccination. Since the argument is made that vaccines are deadly poisons, the anti-vaccination movement fails to gain traction outside social media, then by necessity they argue that some kind of cover up must take place that the vaccines serve an agenda.

According to Free Malaysia Today, there are recent reports about new cases of diphtheria in Malaysia and it raised serious concerns about the anti-vaccine movement in Malaysia. It was reported that a two-year-old boy from Kedah and a seven-year-old girl from Malacca died from diphtheria. The number of children who came in close contact with the deceased has been suspected of the disease.

The two deaths related to diphtheria have alarmed the medical community in Malaysia as diphtheria is a disease caused by bacteria from an unhealthy environment and can be prevented through immunisation. Such cases seem to indicate the growing of anti-vaccine movement in Malaysia and it has become an issue of concern.

As stated in BBC News, the news coverage on anti-vaccine movement are more largely reported in international prospect and the point of perspective are also different compared to local news agency.

Some Malaysian parents have expressed their fears of side effects and links to autism. Andrew Wakefield, who is dubbed as the ‘Father of Anti-Vaccine Movement’, allegedly found links to autism to childhood vaccines but his study was retracted in 2010 after it was proven to be an “elaborate fraud”. However, even when many other studies have debunked these myths, some parents are still suspicious to vaccination and suspected that it may have caused autism.

According to BBC News, anti-science rhetoric has serious consequences for society. The rants on social media to the belief that vaccines cause autism, scientific ignorance takes on a variety of frustrating forms.

The people who choose not to vaccinate their children have a misguided belief that vaccines contain DNA from pigs, making the vaccines forbidden or haram for Muslim families. The rumours could have started as some vaccines on the global market are cultivated using the trypsin enzyme from pigs.

But even in these cases, scholars argue that the porcine elements are negligible that Islam allows it as it saves lives. According to Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, the consultant paediatrician and neonatologist said the oral polio vaccine was a big issue because it uses trypsin from porcine sources.

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BBC News also reported on the religion sentiment that a Muslim in Asia and the East had seen “strong anti-vaccination propaganda”. The news reported that the rumours had been spread that a conspiracy to control or even harm the Muslim population was being initiated through administered vaccinations.

The anti-vaccine movement is giving diseases a second life as reported in local news. Even though Malaysia achieved low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases for diseases such as diphtheria and neonatal tetanus, these diseases have not been eradicated completely. Many of the viruses and bacteria are still circulating in this country and that is why it is important that children especially infants and young children receive the recommended immunisations on time.

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The investigative reporting from The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Centres for Disease Control in the YS and the Ministry of Health of Malaysia have unequivocally stated that none of the vaccines given singularly or simultaneously causes autism.

Every propaganda from the anti-vaccine movement should be confirmed and study by all parent so they will not be manipulated by the movement. Evidence has shown that scientifically vaccine would not harm people either in autism or any other diseases. The issues on pig enzyme also being highlighted and should not be worried by the parents as it is clear from it.