Thai health authorities have confirmed a number of cases of Zika infection have been recorded in Thailand. Between January 2016 and mid-September 2016 the number of cases was approximately 200. Medical professionals outside of the country have categorised Thailand as a high risk country for Zika. Other countries in the region including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines have also reported cases of Zika infection.
In an interview with news agency Reuters, a spokesman for Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said, “the number of cases is stable.” He asked visitors not to be afraid about visiting Thailand. The Ministry of Public Health also say there have been no cases of birth defects (microcephaly) in Thailand linked to Zika*. A number of pregnant women are being monitored and some of those have already given birth without complications.
*Update: September 27, 2016
The Ministry of Public Health announced they are investigating four suspected cases of Zika-related microcephaly.
*Update: September 30, 2016:
Two cases of microcephaly linked to the Zika virus have now been confirmed in Thailand.
This article has been written in response to a number of emails I’ve recently received asking about the risk of Zika in Thailand. I’m not a medical professional so can only give general advice and information. If you are planning a trip to Thailand and have any concerns about the Zika virus you should speak to a medical professional in your own country. This is particularly important if you are pregnant or planning a family.
What is Zika?
The Zika virus disease is mainly spread by mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes mosquito. In most cases, the infection isn’t harmful. However, the potential consequences of contracting the Zika virus are more severe for pregnant women. Medical evidence has linked the mosquito-borne virus to birth defects including babies with abnormally small heads (microcephaly).
Zika risk assessment »
How to reduce your chances of getting bitten by mosquitoes
Mosquitoes are a fact of life in Thailand, but there are ways to reduce the chances of getting bitten. Thai authorities are also taking action by spraying drains and other areas of standing water where mosquitoes like to breed. Mosquitoes tend to be active at sunrise and dusk, but the Aedes mosquito which is linked to the Zika virus can be different. They can also be at their most active during mid-morning and again from late-afternoon to dusk. Whatever the time of day or night it is advisable to take preventative matters against being bitten.
- Do wear mosquito repellant
- Don’t wear aftershave, perfume or scented deodorants (some fragrances attract mosquitoes)
- Wear light-coloured, loose clothing that covers arms and legs
- Air-conditioning helps to deter mosquitoes
Advice for pregnant women travelling to Thailand and South-East Asia
You should consult your doctor or a medical practitioner in your home country to discuss your travel plans. In some cases, you may be advised to postpone non-essential travel to countries where there is an active Zika virus transmission. The same advice may also apply to your partner so always consult with a medical professional.
Zika risk assessment »
Always ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance for any trip to Thailand. Whichever company you use, check the policy details to make sure you are adequately covered.
You may also find useful:
Mosquitoes in Thailand
Do I need malaria tablets?
Do I need a travel vaccination for Japanese encephalitis?