Zika virus a global emergency but no threat for Bhutan now
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. On 29 August 2016, Singapore Government also reported 41 confirmed cases of locally transmitted cases Zika virus in Singapore.
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 also said announcements in the flights also say if people have symptoms like Zika infection, they should 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 entomologist 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.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Zika virus can also be transmitted through sex.
As a preventative measures before travelling to Zika affected areas travelers should seek up-to-date advice on potential risks and appropriate measures to reduce the possibility of exposure to mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.
While in Zika-affected areas men and women should practice safer sex which includes the consistent use of condoms or abstinence to prevent Zika virus infection, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancies.
Travelers can prevent mosquito bites during the trip by wearing clothing-- preferably light coloured which covers as much of body as possible, use insect repellent, repellents may be applied to exposed skin or to clothing, an should contain DEET, (diethyltoluamide) or IR3535 or Icaridin. Repellents must be used in strict accordance with the label instructions. Use physical barriers such as regular or mesh screens or insecticides treated netting materials on doors and windows, or closing doors and windows; and sleep under mosquito nets, especially during the day, when Aedes mosquitoes are most active.