Health officials: Zika plan to focus on public awareness
THE Ministry of Health and Sports and the World Health Organization (WHO) will launch a Zika virus awareness program in the coming weeks, said WHO Myanmar adviser U Myo Lwin.
The plan is in the works, he said, and detailed information will be released after a meeting scheduled to be held in the next two weeks. “The meeting will discuss how to treat suspected cases, how to transfer patients to the hospital, how to prepare the laboratory and how to control mosquitoes,” he said. “Awareness is most important.”
The virus, which can be spread through mosquitoes or sexual partners, typically produces mild symptoms but can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, if it spreads from a pregnant mother to her fetal child.
The Yangon Department of Public Health has been building a control program for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which can carry both Zika virus and dengue fever, said Deputy Director Daw Khin Nan Lon. The department held a meeting about the virus at Yangon International Airport on September 10.
Traps to catch mosquitoes were set up at the airport, she said at a symposium at the Myanmar Medical Association on September 10.
Two to seven days following the bite of a mosquito carrying Zika, one in five people develops symptoms and a very small percentage of those develop complications. Health officials at the recent conference said awareness efforts need to target pregnant women especially.
“Most of the patients will first visit their general practitioner,” said Dr Yin Yin Soe, an obstetrician and gynaecology expert from the University of Medicine-1. “If it is suspected that the patient has the Zika virus, they need to be referred to the hospital quickly. The safest thing for pregnant women and those expecting to become pregnant is to avoid going abroad.”
At least two cases of Zika-infected Myanmar nationals abroad have been reported.