The Environmental Health Department is recommending that travelers take the necessary precaution in light of the mosquito-borne virus outbreak of Zika when travelling. Outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa and in some areas in Southeast Asia, as well as in Brazil.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus closely related to dengue virus. Zika virus is transmitted to humans mainly by certain species of Aedes mosquitoes. Some of these species bite during the day as well as in the late afternoon/evening.
The main clinical symptoms in patients are fever, conjunctivitis, transient arthritis/arthralgia (mainly in the smaller joints of the hands and feet) and maculo-papular rash (that often starts on the face and then spreads throughout the body). In general, the symptoms are mild and short-lasting (2-7 days). There is no evidence that Zika infection affects pregnant women or their babies.
To reduce the risk of contracting Zika virus infection - as with the other mosquito-borne infections - travellers should minimize the exposure to mosquito bites by taking the following preventive measures:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Apply insect repellents on exposed skin liberally (e.g. repellants containing DEET)
- Use mosquito nets at night
- Use air conditioning when indoors or secure all doors and windows with screens
In addition to the taking these preventative measures, residents are encouraged to continue to discourage the growth and reproduction of mosquitoes by taking the following precautions:
- Check around buildings for anything that could hold water, inspect your home and yard weekly
- Turn containers over or cover them
- Get rid of or cover old tires
- Properly dispose of all garbage/refuse
- Cover boats, children’s pools, etc.
- Clean rain gutters and make sure they are flowing properly
- Check screens for holes
- Tightly cover water drums and rain barrels
For further information contact the Environmental Health Department via telephone 338-2144/43. Protect yourself, your home and environment today.
- The virus was first isolated in 1947 from a sentinel rhesus monkey stationed on a tree platform in the Zika forest, Uganda. The virus reservoirs are presumably monkeys.
- Symptomatic only (non-steroid anti-inflammatories, non-salicylic analgetics); no vaccine or preventive drug is available.