Zika virus reaches CARICOM; five cases con­firmed

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

The Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA) has con­firmed five cases of Zika virus in a Caribbean Com­mu­nity (CARICOM) na­tion. But it has not iden­ti­fied the coun­try or given de­tails about the in­fected in­di­vid­u­als.

In a state­ment is­sued Wed­nes­day, CARPHA said the cases were con­firmed on Mon­day.

While ear­lier this year sus­pected cases of the mos­quito-borne dis­ease were re­ported in Brazil and the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, this is the first time Zika has been de­tected within CARICOM.

CARPHA’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Dr. C. James Hospedales, has em­pha­sized that preven­tion and con­trol are fun­da­men­tal in or­der to pre­vent trans­mis­sion of the virus.

“The best way to pro­tect your­self from this dis­ease is to avoid mos­quito bites and to pre­vent mos­qui­toes breed­ing in and around your home en­vi­ron­ment.”

Zika is a vi­ral dis­ease, trans­mit­ted by the Aedes ae­gypti mos­quito which is also the in­sect vec­tor for dengue and chikun­gunya. The symp­toms are also very sim­i­lar to th­ese diseases and in­clude fever, mus­cle and joint pain, headache, nau­sea, and rash.

There is no vac­cine or treat­ment for Zika and symp­toms last ap­prox­i­mately four to seven days. Com­pli­ca­tions are rare and no deaths due to Zika have ever been recorded.

CARPHA is urg­ing the pub­lic to in­spect their homes and yards weekly, and elim­i­nate po­ten­tial mos­quito breed­ing sites in­doors and out­doors by keep­ing wa­ter drums and bar­rels tightly cov­ered, and throw­ing out stag­nant wa­ter from flower vases, old tyres, and other con­tain­ers that might serve as breed­ing sites.

Last week health au­thor­i­ties, epi­demi­ol­ogy ex­perts from Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion Col­lab­o­rat­ing Cen­tres gath­ered in Buenos Aires, Ar­gentina to dis­cuss ac­tions to im­prove coun­tries’ pre­pared­ness and re­sponse with re­spect to dengue, chikun­gunya and Zika.

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