September 3, 2016 / 11:27 AM / 2 years ago

Singapore says confirms 26 more local transmission Zika cases

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore confirmed 26 more cases of locally transmitted Zika infections, the health ministry and National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement on Saturday, bringing the tally to 215.

A worker fogs the drains in the common areas of a public housing estate at an area where locally transmitted Zika cases were discovered in Singapore August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Of the 26 new cases, 24 were linked to existing clusters while two cases have no known links to any existing cluster, they said.

The sequencing analysis of the Zika virus found in two patients from an existing cluster in Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive, showed that the virus was not imported from South America, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and NEA said.

“The analysis found that the virus belongs to the Asian lineage and likely evolved from the strain that was already circulating in Southeast Asia. The virus from these two patients was not imported from South America.”

The MOH and NEA said a research team that conducted the analysis would release more details shortly.

The Malaysian health ministry said earlier on Saturday that it had detected the first case of a locally transmitted Zika infection in Malaysia, in a 61-year-old man in the state of Sabah.

Zika was first identified in Uganda in 1947 and was unknown in the Americas until 2014.

The virus is currently affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, with Brazil the hardest hit so far. 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.

(Corrects background to show virus first identified in Uganda in 1947)

Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Jon Boyle

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