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Zika scare: Myanmar tells women to avoid pregnancy for next six months

The Aedes mosquito-borne Zika causes only mild symptoms such as fever and a rash but is a serious risk for pregnant women. Photograph: (Getty)

Yangon, Yangon Region, Myanmar (Burma) Oct 28, 2016, 11.15 AM (IST)

Myanmar said on Friday it will advise women in Yangon to avoid getting pregnant in the next six months to protect them from the Zika virus after the first case was confirmed in Myanmar's largest city.

Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly - a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized - as well as other brain abnormalities. The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light in Brazil, which has confirmed more than 1,900 cases of microcephaly.

"The Ministry of Health will issue a statement soon advising married women in Yangon to avoid having pregnancies in six months," ministry director general Soe Lwin Nyein told reporters in the capital of Naypyitaw.

A pregnant foreign woman was diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus on Thursday, state media said.

Authorities said they would not allow the woman to leave her home in the next two weeks to prevent Zika from spreading.

"We're also helping her by giving her psychiatric treatment because she's worried about her pregnancy," Soe Lwin Nyein said, refusing to give any details about the woman.

The authorities would also take preventive measures in Yangon and Mandalay, the country's two largest cities. Yangon, the commercial hub of seven million, would be the priority because of a downtown mosquito infestation.

(Reuters)

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