On September 19, 2017, the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) announced one new imported Zika case identified in Taiwan. The case is a 27-year-old male from Manila, the Philippines. On September 16, he visited Taiwan with 3 friends. When he arrived in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, he was detected with fever by the quarantine officer. On September 18, infection with Zika virus was confirmed in the case. Based on the case’s activity history during the incubation period, it was determined that the case acquired Zika virus infection in the Philippines. The local health authority has implemented various prevention measures and provided the case with relevant health education, including the “1+6 Principle” and precautions against mosquito bites. As of now, the case’s condition has improved and none of his 3 friends have developed suspected symptoms. In addition, they departed Taiwan in early morning of September 19.
Thus far this year, a total of 4 imported Zika cases have been identified in Taiwan and they respectively became infected in Vietnam (2), the Philippines (1), and Angola (1). Since 2016, a total of 17 imported Zika cases have been confirmed in Taiwan and the majority of the cases acquired the infection in Southeast Asian countries. Since this is the first time an imported Zika case from the Philippines is confirmed in Taiwan, Taiwan CDC has decided to scale up the travel notice for the Philippines to Level 2: Alert for Zika virus in view of the potential risk of local transmission of Zika virus in the country.
According to the Zika virus classification table published by the World Health Organization (WHO) on August 31, 2017, 75 countries, areas and/or territories worldwide have reported local outbreaks of Zika virus infection since 2015. For affected countries in Asia, Taiwan CDC has issued a travel notice of Level 2: Alert for Zika virus for 3 countries with ongoing outbreaks or possible local transmission of Zika virus, including Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines, while Taiwan CDC has issued a travel notice of Level 1: Watch for Zika virus for countries with evidence of virus circulation before 2015 or ongoing transmission that is no longer in the new or re-introduction phase, but where there is no evidence of interruption, including Indonesia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, India and Maldives.
Travelers visiting Zika-affected areas are urged to take precautions against mosquito bites such as wearing light-colored clothing, long sleeves and long pants, applying officially approved mosquito repellent to exposed parts of the body, staying at accommodations installed with window screens, screen doors or air conditioners. In addition, travelers leaving Zika-affected areas are urged to follow the “1+6 Principle” to prevent Zika transmission. The “1+6 Principle” specifies that people who have recently traveled to Zika-affected areas should monitor their own health and take precautions against mosquito bites for at least 3 weeks, postpone blood donation for at least 1 month, and regardless whether they develop suspected Zika symptoms, they should practice safe sex for at least 6 months to prevent Zika transmission. Further, female travelers should postpone pregnancy for at least 6 months.
Travelers returning to Taiwan from Zika-affected areas are urged to proactively contact the quarantine officer at the fever screening station at the airport when experiencing symptoms. If symptoms develop within two weeks of their return, please seek immediate medical attention and inform the physician of their travel history. Simultaneously, healthcare facilities are urged to heighten vigilance for suspected cases, inquire patients of their travel history when necessary, and report suspected cases to the competent health authority as required by the law in order to lower the risk of transmission. For more information, please visit the Taiwan CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw or call the toll-free Communicable Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline, 1922 (or 0800-001922).