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Expat Exchange - Zika Virus in Malaysia
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Zika Virus in Malaysia

By Betsy Burlingame

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Summary: The mosquito-borne Zika Virus is a p for people living in Malaysia. It's especially important for pregnant women to understand the risks of getting Zika during pregnancy. Learn how to limit your exposure and what to do if you get Zika.

In Malaysia, residents face concerns related to the Zika Virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Pregnant women, in particular, need to be aware of the risks associated with contracting Zika during their pregnancy. Discover ways to minimize exposure and steps to take if you contract the virus.

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, has been a significant health concern in many countries, including Malaysia. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about the Zika virus in Malaysia, its symptoms, prevalence, and its impact on specific groups such as pregnant women and expats. It also offers insights into prevention methods and what to do if one contracts the virus.

What is Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease primarily transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito. Symptoms typically include mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache. However, many people infected with Zika virus won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly and other congenital malformations, known as congenital Zika syndrome. It is also associated with other complications of pregnancy including preterm birth and miscarriage.

Where is Zika Most Prevalent in Malaysia?

Zika virus was first detected in Malaysia in 1969, and sporadic cases have been reported since then. The virus is prevalent in all states of Malaysia, with a higher incidence in urban and semi-urban areas where the Aedes mosquito is commonly found. The states of Selangor, Johor, and Sabah have reported the highest number of Zika cases due to their dense population and conducive environment for mosquito breeding.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Zika virus poses a significant risk to pregnant women as it can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, where a baby's head is much smaller than expected. Other problems might include seizures, developmental delay, problems with movement and balance, feeding problems, hearing loss, and vision problems. Pregnant women in Malaysia are advised to avoid areas with Zika and protect themselves from mosquito bites. If a pregnant woman has to travel to an area with Zika, she should talk to her healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

How do Expats in Malaysia Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expats in Malaysia can take several measures to prevent mosquito bites and reduce their risk of contracting the Zika virus. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with air conditioning or window and door screens, and removing standing water around the home where mosquitoes lay eggs. Using a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors can also be beneficial.

What if I get Zika Virus in Malaysia?

If you get infected with the Zika virus in Malaysia, it's essential to seek medical attention immediately. There is no specific treatment for Zika, but symptoms can be managed with rest, rehydration, and common pain and fever medicines. It's also crucial to prevent mosquito bites during the first week of infection to avoid spreading the virus to others.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through sexual contact, and through blood transfusion, although these are less common. The virus is not contagious through casual person-to-person contact.

Is Zika Virus More Dangerous for Children, Elderly or Immune-Compromised?

While the Zika virus is typically mild in most people, certain groups may be at higher risk for more severe symptoms. These include individuals with weakened immune systems and older adults. However, the most significant risk is to pregnant women, as the virus can cause severe birth defects. Children, like all individuals, can be infected with Zika virus if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. They have similar symptoms to adults, and the disease is typically mild with symptoms lasting for a week or less.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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View of George Town, Penang, Malaysia

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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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