Malaysian infected by Zika died from heart disease complications - ministry

At least 2.6 bln people could be at risk from the virus in mosquito-ridden parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific

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A 61-year-old man diagnosed with the first case of a locally transmitted Zika infection in Malaysia has died from heart disease complications, and not from the mosquito-borne virus, the health ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry had said earlier that the patient was already suffering from high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, chronic kidney disease, kidney stones and gout before he sought medical attention on August 30.

He had developed a fever three days before that and sought further treatment as he experienced worsening fever, muscle aches and diarrhoea.

The patient passed away on Saturday from complications caused by his underlying heart disease, Malaysia’s health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah told Reuters, adding that the patient was due for bypass surgery next month.

The death was not due to Zika, which usually has mild symptoms, he said.

“The full result of investigations on his cause of death is still pending,” Hisham said.

The patient, whose blood and urine samples tested positive for Zika, had not travelled overseas recently and was probably bitten by an Aedes mosquito infected with Zika, the ministry said in an earlier statement on its website.

This is the second case of Zika in Malaysia, which on Thursday confirmed the first imported case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore , where 150 cases have been confirmed.

Local transmission

The ministry said local transmission was highly likely because the man had no recent history of traveling outside Malaysia.

Ministry Director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah told state news agency Bernama his prior health problems were the cause of death on Saturday afternoon, but that the results of a full investigation were pending.

Global risk

A study published on Friday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal said at least 2.6 billion people could be at risk from the virus in mosquito-ridden parts of Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

Zika, which is spread mainly by the Aedes mosquito, has been detected in 67 countries and territories including hard-hit Brazil.

It causes only mild symptoms for most people such as fever and a rash, but infected pregnant women can give birth to babies with microcephaly, a deformation marked by abnormally small brains and heads.

Malaysia already has struggled in recent years to control the spread of Aedes-borne dengue fever.

It has been bracing for Zika after Singapore reported a surge in cases beginning a week ago.

Malaysia has stepped up screening of travelers from abroad, particularly Singapore, and fogging with mosquito-killing chemicals while urging the public to eliminate mosquito breeding sites such as stagnant water.

(With Reuters and AFP)