PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia's health ministry said on Wednesday they have detected a new case of Zika virus in a pregnant woman living in Johor Baru, which borders Singapore, bringing the total outbreak in the country to three.
The patient, a 27-year-old woman who is three to four months in pregnancy, began to show symptoms of rash and fever on Sept. 2, said the health minister S.Subramaniam at a press conference, adding she tested positive on Tuesday.
She is being treated in the hospital currently, said the minister.
How the patient was infected is still being investigated by health authorities, but her husband commutes daily to work in Singapore, said the minister, adding the test results on the husband are yet to come out.
"There is a possiblilty that the husband was also positive and she got it from him through sexual contact, or it coule be by a mosquito bite by another infected person within Johor Baru, who we don't know who it is," said the minister.
Subramaniam suggested people who have infected spouses to avoid sex or postpone pregnancy for at least six months.
He also noted that if the life of infected pregnant women are threatened, they can have abortion, but he said doctors should take individual cases in a "case by case" manner.
Since a sudden outbreak of Zika in Singapore, Malaysian health authorities have been on high alert, worrying that apathy among many Malaysian people towards Aedes mosquitoes, the major transmitter of the virus as well as dengue, may offset the efforts to prevent Zika.
"We have to presume there will be more cases, particularly in Johor Baru because of the close proximity to Singapore, where there are some new cases emerging from time to time," said the minister.
There is no vaccine or specific medication to treat the mosquito-borne virus, which has been linked to serious birth defects.
The World Health Organization also further strengthened its guidelines to prevent sexual transmissions of Zika virus on Tuesday, advising people both men and women returning from Zika-affected areas to practice safe sex for at least six months from the previous six to eight weeks.
Zika outbreak in Southeast Asia have touched the nerve of many countries, prompting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to urge leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a summit in Laos to work together to fight Zika.