Warning issued as Zika virus spreads through region

| 21/01/2016 | 3 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): With 18 countries in the Caribbean and Latin American now reporting cases of the Zika virus, local medical personnel remain on high alert. Although no cases have been reported in the Cayman Islands so far, officials have issued a travel advisory due to the transient nature of the population and access to endemic areas currently experiencing an outbreak. The Public Health Department recommends that all residents avoid non-essential travel to affected countries. Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr Samuel Williams said air travel can put people at risk.

“Simply put, if someone is bitten by an infected mosquito in countries where Zika exists, the infection can be acquired and brought back to Cayman. It is therefore paramount the public protect themselves from mosquito bites by using mosquito repellents, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants tucked into socks during travels,” he warned

Dr Williams said the Health Services Authority and other medical service providers are on the lookout for any local cases but as of Tuesday, no suspected cases have emerged here yet.

There is no Zika vaccine available to prevent infection or medicine to treat the virus and so preventing an outbreak is a top priority. Dr Williams said that if there was a suspected case here, the local laboratory, headed by Judith Clarke, has arrangements in place with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing.

It is especially important that women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant take all necessary action to protect themselves from contracting the disease because this can present complications with the foetus, in particular microcephaly, an abnormal smallness of the head of a baby and incomplete brain development.

Dr Bill Petrie, Director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), said measures for controlling the spread of Zika are similar to those applied for the control of dengue and chikungunya, as all three diseases are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

“Until a vaccine is developed the MRCU remains steadfast in its efforts to ensure the Aedes aegypti population is suppressed through effective vector control strategies,” he said.

The Zika virus transmission has been documented in Brazil, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Martinique, Paraguay, El Salvador, Mexico, Suriname, French Guiana, Guatemala, Panama, Venezuela, Guyana, Haiti, Barbados, Ecuador and St Martin.

A travel health clinic is held on Thursdays in the Public Health Department at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

Residents with travel plans can get advice on what diseases are present in their country of destination and what vaccines or precautions are needed.

Further information can be obtained by contacting 244-2648.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Humans need to stop going down into the rain forest and bringing it back to society. Humans also need to chill tf out

  2. Anon a must says:

    Brazil has developed a genetically engineered mosquito to fight the Zika virus.

    Just maybe we can buy some more mosquitoes for Cayman.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/gmo-mosquitoes-may-battle-zika-dengue-brazil-n499576

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness that the UK company were allowed to use Cayman to test ways to stop the breeding of the mosquito species that carries this awful disease.

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