No evidence Zika in Singapore more or less severe than strain in Americas: media

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[September 08, 2016]  SINGAPORE (Reuters) - There is no evidence that the Zika outbreak in Singapore is caused by a viral strain that is more or less severe than the strain circulating in Latin America, Singapore media reported on Thursday, citing the health ministry.

Singapore has so far detected more than 280 Zika infections since reporting its first case on Aug. 27.

Zika infections in pregnant women have been shown to cause microcephaly - a severe birth defect in which the head and brain are undersized - as well as other brain abnormalities. The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has since confirmed more than 1,800 cases of the birth defect.

In adults, Zika infections have also been linked to a rare neurological syndrome known as Guillain-Barre, as well as other neurological disorders.

An analysis of two locally infected patients showed the Zika strain in Singapore likely evolved from a strain already circulating in Southeast Asia since the 1960s, the Straits Times newspaper said on its website.

The analysis will be made available for the benefit of the global scientific community, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the newspaper said.

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On Wednesday, the WHO updated its assessment of the Zika virus as a cause of congenital brain abnormalities in babies and the Guillian-Barre syndrome, after considering months of research into the mosquito-borne disease.

(Reporting by Marius Zaharia; Editing by Robert Birsel and Miral Fahmy)

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