OUTBREAK: ZIKA VIRUS!

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page -

THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH has urged the public to destroy breeding grounds of mosquitoes and use self-protection measures, and seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days following the outbreak of the Zika virus disease in Asia and other parts of the world. It also recommended the use of fogging when there is an impending outbreak in the country. “The first step to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is within our homes. We should not only remember the information being delivered by DOH to the communities. Instead, let us make it a practice and instil cleanliness in our surroundings. It is not only your family that will benefit from this habit, but the entire community as well,” Health Secretary Janette Garin said. She said a documented case of Zika virus infection was traced in Cebu City in 2012 when a 15-year old boy was reported with symptoms of fever, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, muscle pain, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Garin said the patient eventually recovered fully after 3 weeks of continuous bed rest and medication. In Sulu province and Zamboanga City in southern Philippines, government officials and health workers have began a clean campaign to rid breeding grounds of mosquitoes and stop them from multiplying. Sulu Governor Toto Tan said the campaign is ongoing in different villages in the 19 municipalities there. “Even before the outbreak of this Zika virus disease, we have been ridding villages of mosquito breeding grounds and launched a campaign – together with health authorities and village leaders on how to deal with mosquitoes, especially these Aedes, to prevent the spread of communicable diseases,” he told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner. Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco also ordered health authorities to intensify the cleanliness campaign in villages too, especially in resettlement areas. She sought the help of village leaders in destroying breeding grounds of mosquitoes and keeping their area clean. “We have been doing this now and even in the past, and we are intensifying our cleanliness program just to be on the safe side. We don’t want (the spread of) Zika (virus disease) and dengue (fever) in Zamboanga. We are a clean city, but just the same, the campaign goes on,” she said in a separate interview.

WHO joins the fight

The World Health Organization or WHO has responded to the outbreak of the Zika virus disease caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes which is now spreading in Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific. It said people with Zika virus disease usually have a mild fever, skin rash or exanthema, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days. It said there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available and that the best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites which usually bite during the morning and late afternoon/evening hours) WHO said Zika virus is an emerging mosquitoborne virus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys through a monitoring network of sylvatic yellow fever. It was subsequently identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Signs and Symptoms

It said the incubation period or the time from exposure to symptoms of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are 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.

During large outbreaks in French Polynesia and Brazil in 2013 and 2015 respectively, national health authorities reported potential neurological and auto- immune complications of Zika virus disease.

Recently in Brazil, local health authorities have observed an increase in Zika virus infections in the general public as well as an increase in babies born with microcephaly in northeast Brazil.

Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding an increasing body of evidence about the link between Zika virus and microcephaly. However, more investigation is needed before we understand the relationship between microcephaly in babies and the Zika virus. Other potential causes are also being investigated, according to the world health body.

Transmission WHO said Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

Zika virus disease outbreaks were reported for the first time from the Pacific in 2007 and 2013 - Yap and French Polynesia, respectively - and in 2015 from the Americas - Brazil and Colombia- and Africa - Cape Verde. In addition, more than 13 countries in the Americas have reported sporadic Zika virus infections indicating rapid geographic expansion of Zika virus.

Diagnosis Zika virus is diagnosed through polymerase chain reaction and virus isolation from blood samples. Diagnosis by serology can be difficult as the virus can cross- react with other flaviviruses such as dengue, West Nile and yellow fever.

Prevention Mosquitoes and their breeding sites pose a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction - removal and modification of breeding sites - and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.

This can be done by using insect repellent; wearing clothes, preferably light- coloured, that cover as much of the body as possible; using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and sleeping under mosquito nets. It is also important to empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres, so that places where mosquitoes can breed are removed.

Special attention and help should be given to those who may not be able to protect themselves adequately, such as young children, the sick or elderly.

During outbreaks, health authorities may advise that spraying of insecticides be carried out. Insecticides recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers.

Travellers should take the basic precautions described above to protect themselves from mosquito bites, WHO said in a fact sheet released just recently.

Treatment Zika virus disease is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. There is currently no vaccine available.

WHO said it is supporting countries to control Zika virus disease through define and prioritize research into Zika virus disease by convening experts and partners, and enhance surveillance of Zika virus and potential complications.

It said WHO has strengthened capacity in risk communication to help countries meet their commitments under the International Health Regulations and provides training on clinical management, diagnosis and vector control including through a number of WHO Collaborating Centers, and the capacity of laboratories to detect the virus.

It also supports health authorities to implement vector control strategies aimed at reducing Aedes mosquito populations such as providing larvicide to treat standing water sites that cannot be treated in other ways, such as cleaning, emptying, and covering them.

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