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Taiwan CDC Doctors Visit Latin America to Follow the Control Progress of the Zika Virus and Educate Overseas Taiwanese Communities

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2016-04-06
  • Last Updated:2017-01-10

In response to the Zika virus’s rapid spread in Latin America in the second half of last year (2015), the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) sent doctors Huang Shi-Ze and Wei Xin-Yi to Honduras and Brazil on March 20, 2016 to visit the health agencies and hospitals in these two countries, and they also provided health education and donated mosquito repellent to local Taiwanese communities. After successfully completing their mission, the two doctors returned to Taiwan on March 31, 2016. 
Taiwan CDC stated that Dr. Huang and Dr. Wei were in Honduras and Brazil from March 20 to 31 to assist the Taiwanese government offices in the two countries in disease control and to understand the latest development of the Zika epidemic and its control measures. With full support from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Embassy in Honduras, Representative Office in Brazil, and the Economic and Cultural Office in Sao Paolo, they visited health agencies and hospitals in the two countries, collecting local information regarding the latest development of the Zika epidemic and its control measures and holding health education seminars for local Taiwanese communities. During their trip, the two doctors were also interviewed by a Brazilian newspaper to share the purpose of their trip, as well as Taiwan’s experience in mosquito vector control and advice on Zika virus prevention. 
During the trip, Dr. Huang and Dr. Wei noticed a number of challenges that both Honduras and Brazil are facing in their battle against the Zika epidemic. These include: incomplete implementation of case reporting and surveillance, inadequate healthcare services, unequal distribution of disease control resources, and the need to augment laboratory testing capacity. However, due to the lack of infrastructure, it remains a major challenge for local governments to improve environmental health. Fortunately, both countries have integrated resources from various government agencies and multiple sectors to undertake a nation-wide education campaign on mosquito vector control, in order to inform the public of the correct ways to prevent and control vector mosquitos. Built on the exchange of experience during this trip to Honduras and Brazil, Taiwan CDC will continue to work with the mass media to provide the public with health information on Zika virus infection symptoms, improve laboratory facilities to strengthen the testing efficiency and capacity on the Zika virus, and closely follow the global development of the Zika epidemic and related control measures in order to reduce the threat. 
On April 5, 2016, the Vietnam CDC confirmed the country’s first two Zika cases as residents in the south central province of Khanh Hoa and Ho Chi Minh City respectively. One of them is a pregnant woman who, according to initial investigation, was infected locally from mosquito bites. So far, her family members and friends have tested negative for the virus. The cases indicate an endemic risk in Vietnam. Taiwan CDC has therefore raised the travel notice level for Vietnam to Level 2 (Alert). So far, there are at least 61 countries or territories worldwide that have reported local outbreaks of Zika virus cases; the more severe outbreak regions are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Taiwan CDC has listed 46 countries or territories with a Level 2 (Alert) travel notice. 
Taiwan CDC advises pregnant women and women planning pregnancy to postpone their trips to Zika-affected areas. If visits are necessary, travelers are advised to conduct self-service health monitoring for at least two weeks after returning from endemic areas, and follow a doctor’s instructions for follow-up examinations. When visiting endemic areas, the general public is urged to take precautions against mosquito bites, and use condoms when having sex for at least 28 days after leaving those areas. On re-entering their own country, if they suspect Zika virus infection, they should proactively contact officers at the fever screening station at the airport. If feeling unwell within two weeks of their return, they should seek medical attention and inform the physician of their travel history. 
For more information, please visit the Taiwan CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov.tw or call the Taiwan CDC toll-free hotline 1922 (or 0800-001922) for enquiries (available at all times). If calling from another country, please call the international hotline +886-800-001922 (caller is responsible for international telephone fees).