Health au­thor­i­ties seek to tackle Zika threat

The Myanmar Times - - News - MYINT KAY THI my­in­tkaythi@mm­ KYAW KO KO kyawkoko@mm­ – Trans­la­tion by San Layy

THE AR­RIVAL of Myan­mar’s first doc­u­mented case of Zika has prompted health au­thor­i­ties to boost dis­ease con­trol ef­forts, in a bid to con­tain its spread.

Fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of a case pre­sent­ing in Yan­gon, the Min­istry of Health and Sports says it is step­ping up mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nisms across the coun­try.

The health min­istry an­nounced on Oc­to­ber 27 that a preg­nant for­eigner liv­ing in Yan­gon’s San­chaung township had been di­ag­nosed with Zika. Her na­tion­al­ity and name were with­held, but she is re­port­edly un­der­go­ing med­i­cal treat­ment.

De­part­ment of­fi­cials said on Novem­ber 1 that over 40 po­ten­tial Zika cases had been iden­ti­fied and un­der­went test­ing – but none tested pos­i­tive. Since the first con­firmed case, no other cases have been di­ag­nosed.

The Yan­gon Pub­lic Health De­part­ment is rolling out mea­sures to keep mos­quito pop­u­la­tions in check.

Dr Khin Nan Lon, the deputy of Yan­gon Re­gion’s De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, said of­fi­cials will be proac­tively look­ing to stem the breed­ing of mos­qui­toes. San­chaung township is re­ceiv­ing par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion.

The Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito also car­ries yel­low fever, Ja­panese en­cephali­tis and the West Nile virus. They breed in stag­nant wa­ter – of­ten in un­cov­ered bar­rels, buck­ets, and dis­carded tires. How­ever, the health de­part­ment says the great­est con­cern is home bath­rooms and wa­ter tanks.

“We will un­der­take mos­quito con­trol ev­ery sec­ond week of month. This is the best way to pre­vent and pro­tect from both the Zika virus and dengue fever,” Dr Khin Nan Lon said. Deputy di­rec­tor gen­eral of the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health Dr Than Htun Aung has urged the pub­lic to in­form health au­thor­i­ties if symptoms of Zika are dis­played – par­tic­u­larly if the pa­tient has re­cently trav­elled to coun­tries where Zika has pre­sented.

In Man­dalay, two per­ma­nent med­i­cal of­fi­cers have been as­signed to mon­i­tor tourists en­ter­ing the air­port, as well as to pro­vide pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, said Man­dalay Re­gion Pub­lic Health De­part­ment health of­fi­cer Dr Win Naing.

“The pub­lic has been in­formed to re­port to the near­est clinic if four symptoms of Zika virus are present. Fu­mi­ga­tion is be­ing done to con­trol the spread of mos­qui­toes,” Dr Win Naing added.

Just one in five peo­ple in­fected with Zika will ex­hibit symptoms, in­clud­ing mild fever, headache, joint pains, con­junc­tivi­tis, vom­it­ing and skin rashes. If symptoms ap­pear, they will typ­i­cally show be­tween two and seven days fol­low­ing the mos­quito bite. Zika can also be sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted.

The Min­istry of Health and Sports is­sued an alert in early Septem­ber that preg­nant women or those try­ing to con­ceive ought to avoid vis­it­ing Zikaaf­flicted coun­tries.

Dr Than Htun Aung says the death rate of Zika is low, but there are a range of com­pli­ca­tions pos­si­ble for in­fected preg­nant women.

“Preg­nancy could cause prob­lems such as a baby be­ing born with mi­cro­cephaly, or dis­rupted brain growth,” he said. Zika has also been linked with the rare auto-im­mune dis­or­der Guil­lian-Barré Syn­drome.

“The best way to avoid Zika is to try not to be bit­ten by mos­qui­toes, and con­trol­ling their breed­ing,” said Dr Than Htun Aung. “Preg­nant women and those at­tempt­ing to con­ceive should be aware that it is im­por­tant not to bit­ten.”

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