The authorities of Malaysia have confirmed its first case of the Zika virus in a pregnant woman – as the mosquito-borne disease linked to severe brain defects continues to spread across Southeast Asia.
Speaking on Wednesday, Malaysia’s health minister, Subramaniam Sathasivam, revealed that a 27-year-old woman, had tested positive for the virus.
“The woman is expecting her first child and is three to four months pregnant,” Malaysia’s health minister said, in a statement on the ministry’s Facebook page.
According to the minister, it remains unclear if she had contacted the disease in Malaysia or from her husband, who works in Singapore, and also shows the symptoms.
Singapore is at the centre of the largest single outbreak of the disease in Asia, with the number of cases in the city-state rising to 275 this week, according to an update on Tuesday.
Malaysia confirmed two cases last week, of which one was locally transmitted.
Singapore’s warm and humid conditions, coupled with high population density, favour the spread of Zika. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, which also carries dengue.
In February 2016, the World Health Organisation declared Zika a public health emergency following a surge in the number of babies born with microcephaly across Latin America.