Keep Zika at bay
The Zika virus outbreak in the America and the South Pacific continues to evolve and its spread is likely to continue as the vector species Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are widely distributed throughout the world. WHO has declared that the recent cluster of Zika virus as public health emergency of international concern but Bhutan need not worry about the virus now as per the health officials. On 29th August 2016, the Singaporean government also reported 41 confirmed cases of locally transmitted cases Zika virus in the country.
In notification issued by the Ministry of Health last week all the hospital administration has been asked to inform the clinicians in their respective hospital to ask for travel history for everyone presenting with the symptoms similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.
The health Secretary, Dr. Ugen Dophu in an earlier interview with BBS said all the flights coming in and going out of the country are sprayed with anti-mosquito insecticides.
The Secretary said announcements in the flights also say if people have symptoms like Zika infection, to report to the health desk at Paro airport.
Also, the vector control programme is carrying out intensive surveillance in southern part of the country with one full dedicated entomolo- gist looking after Zika.
The secretary added that the health workers are constantly monitoring because there is dengue outbreak in Phuentsholing.
Based on available evidence, World Health Organization (WHO) has issued no general restrictions on travel or trade with countries, areas and/or territories with Zika virus transmission.
However, WHO is advising pregnant women not to travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus outbreak. This advice is based on the increased risk of microcephaly and other congenital malformations in babies born to pregnant women infected with Zika virus. Microcephaly is a condition where baby is born with a small head or the head stops growing after birth.
As a precautionary measure, some national governments may make public health and travel recommendations to their own populations, based on their assessment of the available evidence and local risk factors.
As per WHO women who have had unprotected sex and do not wish to become pregnant due to concerns about Zika virus infection have ready access to emergency contraceptive services and counseling.
Bhutan is a small county with limited population and resources we cannot effort to have Zika virus in the country. With 41 confirmed cases in Singapore and the efforts put on by the Ministry of Health the epidemic may not come to Bhutan too soon. But let’s keep Zika at bay for now.