Singapore confirms first case of locally transmitted Zika virus

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What Is the Zika Virus?

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has confirmed its first case of a locally-transmitted Zika virus, which has been linked to microcephaly, a rare birth defect, in Brazil, the health ministry said.

A 47-year-old Malaysian woman working in the city-state was confirmed with the virus, but was "well and recovering." As she had not traveled to Zika-affected areas recently, she was likely to have been infected in Singapore, the ministry said in a statement.

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Three other cases have tested positive in preliminary tests on their urine samples and are due further checks.

Zika was detected in Brazil last year and has since spread across the Americas. The virus poses a risk to pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects. It has been linked to more than 1,600 cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

Singapore, one of the world's largest financial centers and busiest travel hubs, said it expected more cases of the mosquito-borne virus which has wreaked havoc in Latin America, the Caribbean and beyond.

"With the presence of Zika in our region and the volume of travel by Singaporeans as well as tourists, it is inevitable there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore," the ministry said.

"There is also risk of subsequent local transmission ... we expect there may be further cases, as most infected persons may display mild or no symptoms."

The ministry said it was screening the patient's close contacts and carrying out tests on others living or working nearby. Clinics have been told to be on the lookout for more cases.

Related: The fight against Zika in Florida:

12 PHOTOS
Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade county
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Zika outbreak in Miami-Dade county
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel peers into a drain in Miami's Wynwood district to detect any mosquito presence on Saturday, July 30, 2016. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel stops to write in her log on Northwest 28th Street in Miami's Wynwood district on Saturday, July 30, 2016. On foot and in her truck, Nagel covered a swath of the district to combat any mosquito presence. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Diana Ozuna, with her 20-month-old daughter Lianah, lives in Miami's Wynwood district -- an area in which the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes. On Saturday, July 30, 2016, Ozuna talks about the threat of the virus. She says she takes the threat seriously and applies protective spray on her and her daughter. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control inspector Sharon Nagel drops a chemical tablet into a drain that shows signs of mosquitos in Miami's Wynwood district on Saturday, July 30, 2016. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said that the Zika virus is being transmitted by mosquitoes in a one-square-mile area north of downtown Miami. (Marsha Halper/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Sharon Nagel, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, walks through the Wynwood neighborhood looking for mosquitos or breeding areas where she kills the mosquitos with larvicide granules or a fogger spraying pesticide as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, prepares to use a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, prepares to use a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 30: Robert Muxo, a Miami-Dade County mosquito control inspector, uses a fogger to spray pesticide to kill mosquitos in the Wynwood neighborhood as the county fights to control the Zika virus outbreak on July 30, 2016 in Miami, Florida. There have been a reported four individuals that have been infected with the Zika virus by local mosquitoes which makes them the first known cases of the virus being transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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MISTING, FOGGING

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has carried out "vector control" operations to control the mosquito population and deployed 100 officers in the area, the statement said.

Such operations include "ultra-low volume misting of premises and thermal fogging of outdoor areas to kill adult mosquitoes," increasing frequency of drain flushing and oiling to prevent breeding, and public education outreach and distribution of insect repellent.

"NEA may need to gain entry into inaccessible premises by force after serving of requisite notices, to ensure any breeding habitats are destroyed quickly," the statement said.

U.S. health officials have concluded that Zika infections in pregnant women can cause microcephaly, a birth defect marked by small head size that can lead to severe developmental problems in babies.

The World Health Organization has said there is strong scientific consensus that Zika can also cause Guillain-Barre, a rare neurological syndrome that causes temporary paralysis in adults.

Zika is carried by mosquitoes, which transmit the virus to humans. A small number of cases of sexual transmission have been reported in the United States and elsewhere. A case of suspected transmission through a blood transfusion in Brazil has raised questions about other ways that Zika may spread.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, which is a close cousin of dengue and chikungunya and causes mild fever, rash and red eyes. An estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, however.

See more: Mosquitoes engineered to combat Zika:
21 PHOTOS
Genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat Zika
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Genetically engineered mosquitoes to combat Zika
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A biologist works on putting blood on iron plates to feed the females of the nursery that produces genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A biologist works on putting blood on iron plates to feed the females of the nursery that produces genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: The Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, is producing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Campinas Daily are released 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and win the battle because they were outnumbered. After the breeding season, the natural females lay eggs that are not genetically modified Zika virus transmitters. (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
PIRACABA, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11 :A Biologist releases genetically modified mosquitoes in the city on February 11, 2016 in Piracicaba, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified male mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified male mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist works with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
CAMPINAS, BRAZIL - FEBRUARY 11: A Biologist work with genetically modified mosquitoes on February 11, 2016 in Campinas, Brazil. Technicians from the Oxitec laboratory located in Campinas, 100km from Sao Paulo, are releasing genetically modified mosquitoes Aedes Egypti to combat Zika virus. The laboratory is acting in Piracicaba who had a dengue outbreak last summer with 132 cases and after treatment showed only two cases this summer .The Lab will release 250,000 genetically modified mosquitoes in two neighborhoods with a large concentration of incident cases of egypti aedes mosquito, the modified mosquitoes compete with wild mosquitoes and replace them with non-Zika transmitting mosquitoes . (Photos by Victor Moriyama/Getty Images)
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 10: Yira Paulino, an entomologist, works with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 10, 2016. (Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - FEBRUARY 10: Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are seen at a laboratory of the National Center for the Control of Tropical Diseases (CENCET) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on February 10, 2016. (Photo by Stringer /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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