Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari has suggested conducting an investigation over the Zika virus outbreak in several Southeast Asian countries.

"Regardless of whether the Zika virus has spread due to natural causes or human factors, it could only be investigated by conducting an in-depth epidemiology or surveillance. The life cycle of a disease follows a logical chronology, so the outbreak is clear," Supari, who was the health minister from 2004 to 2009, informed the press here, Tuesday.

The swine flu outbreak during the 2004-2009 period is a lesson for countries whose economies are growing, she noted.

Mexicos economy was devastated by the swine flu outbreak, she pointed out.

To this end, the Indonesian government should adopt serious measures to respond to the Zika virus outbreak that has occurred in several Southeast Asian nations, she remarked.

Southeast Asias climate is conducive for the aedes aegepti mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus, to reproduce, she remarked.

The government should specifically protect pregnant women from Zika virus, as it could lead to the congenital condition of microcephaly in newborns.

Zika is believed to be linked to birth defects when expectant mothers are infected and to a rare but severe and progressive neurological disorder called the Guillain-Barr� syndrome.

The syndrome is triggered by an infection and can cause temporary or long-term paralysis. It is quite rare, occurring in approximately one in 100 thousand people per year.

While holding the health ministerial post, Supari played an active role in curbing bird flu in 2008. In 2009, she decided to close the US Marines laboratory Namru-2 in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has issued a travel advisory over the Zika virus outbreak in a bid to prevent the disease from spreading to the country.

The travel advisory is issued particularly for Indonesians intending to travel to countries affected by the Zika virus.

Indonesia has taken the step following the Singaporean governments announcement of Zika cases in the neighboring country.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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