The Center for Health Protection (CHP) of Hong Kong is investigating an imported case of Zika virus infection, in which a young woman who has been to South American countries got infected, the health department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said Wednesday.
The female patient, aged 31, with good past health, presented with headache, sore throat, nausea and vomiting since Friday and developed generalized skin rash since Sunday. She was admitted by a Hong Kong hospital on Monday and has been put under isolation in a stable condition.
Her urine specimen tested positive for Zika virus.
Initial enquiries revealed that the patient traveled to Ecuador and Peru on April 8 and returned to Hong Kong on Friday. She could not recall mosquito bites during the travel or in Hong Kong.
Ecuador and Peru are classified as areas with new introduction or re-introduction with ongoing transmission of Zika virus infection by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The patient's travel collaterals and home contacts have remained asymptomatic so far.
Wong Ka-hing, controller of the CHP, announced the case in a briefing Wednesday evening, saying "upon laboratory confirmation, we immediately commenced epidemiological investigations and informed the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department for vector surveillance and control."
"Hong Kong remains vigilant against Zika virus infection and the Alert Response Level under the Preparedness and Response Plan for Zika virus infection remains in place," Wong said, adding that the public should heighten vigilance during travel and doctors should stay alert to patients with compatible symptoms and travel history.
Wong said Hong Kong will report the case to WHO and also to the national, Guangdong and Macau health authorities, and will issue letters to local doctors and hospitals to alert them to the latest situation.
The CHP's Port Health Office (PHO) introduced a new requirement on aircraft disinsection for all inbound aircraft from Zika-affected areas starting from noon Wednesday to prevent importation of diseases through infected mosquitoes.
The PHO has stepped up inspection and health promotion at boundary control points (BCPs) to maintain strict environmental hygiene with effective mosquito control and has been working closely with the travel industry on the latest disease information and health advice.
"Routine health surveillance on body temperature of inbound travelers at all BCPs is ongoing. However, infected persons are mainly asymptomatic," Wong said, "Therefore, we again urge those arriving from Zika-affected areas to apply insect repellent for at least 21 days upon arrival to reduce the risk of transmission."