Health authorities in Thailand confirmed two cases of Zika-related microcephaly in babies.
"The Zika virus has been known in Southeast Asia but the investigation concerning the disease is still not widespread," said Prasert Thongcharoen, an adviser to the Department of Disease Control, adding that a third case was still pending confirmation for the link to Zika.
‘Zika virus has been known in Southeast Asia but the investigation concerning the disease is still not widespread.’
Though the Aedes mosquito-spread virus is considered "endemic" to many parts of Southeast Asia, and travel warnings have been issued to 11 countries in the region -- including Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, the microcephaly cases in Thailand are the first in the subregion to be directly linked to Zika.
"The state of babies born with relatively small heads is something that we have just been alerted to from the prevailing Zika virus cases in South America," said Prasert, noting that a DDC committee is now working on a manual to instruct pregnant women on how to prevent Zika.
In the past month, the World Health Organization also documented microcephaly in babies in Guatemala, while other types of Zika-related malformations in babies have been detected, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or paralysis, in Ecuador, according to the latest WHO update on the public health emergency issued on September 22.