Iloilo City woman tests positive for Zika virus

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reported the country's first case of the Zika virus this year.

This is the sixth recorded Zika case in the Philippines since 2012.

The Zika victim was identified as a 45-year-old married woman from Iloilo City.

The DOH said the infection was locally acquired because the patient has no history of traveling to any Zika-affected country in the past two weeks.

The woman was confined at a local hospital after reporting her case on August 31. She had developed a skin rash and joint pains, but these were not accompanied by a fever.

She tested positive for the virus after undergoing blood and urine tests. But she was discharged the next day and is now recovering at home.

Her husband has yet to be tested for Zika, since the virus can be sexually transmitted.

Also read: DOH rolls out measures against Zika virus

More cases expected

The DOH is expecting more Zika cases as the department intensifies its surveillance efforts, said Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.

DOH Usec. Bayugo said the agency has been monitoring "sporadic" Zika cases in the country.

The DOH has coordinated with local officials to intensify mosquito-control efforts, including targeted fogging.

It is also sending a team to Iloilo City to check if there are more cases of the virus in the area.

Zika, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, presents as "a very mild illness" according to the DOH.

However, pregnant women are especially vulnerable since it can cause microcephaly in babies.

'Be good citizens'

Ubial advised Filipinos to "be good citizens" when it comes to dealing with the Zika virus.

The DOH reminded the public to destroy mosquito breeding sites, use approved insect repellents, and cover exposed skin to avoid getting infected.

Ubial urged people experiencing symptoms -- skin rashes, fever, red eyes, and headache -- to immediately consult with government health agencies.

"The key to Zika prevention is heightened vigilance and stronger community efforts that every household should observe," said Ubial.

Public health emergency

The World Health Organization (WHO) considers Zika as a public health emergency of international concern.

Dr. Gundo Weiler, WHO Representative to the Philippines, said there are now 72 countries affected by the Zika virus, while 19 out of 37 countries in the Western Pacific region have reported local transmission of the virus.

The Philippines' neighboring country Singapore has recently reported more than 240 Zika cases.

Weiler said WHO will develop a national action plan for Zika and will continue to support the DOH in its efforts to fight an outbreak.

Related: First Zika vaccine to be tested in humans