Zika virus a global emer­gency but no threat for Bhutan now

Bhutan Times - - Home - Sonam Dorji

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.

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