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Health Ministry Vigilant On Zika Virus Spread, Including Our Olympians for Rio

The Zika virus which is spreading rapidly in Brazil and other parts of South America, has the potential to have the same impact here. But thanks to the proactive stand
05 Feb 2016 10:12
Health Ministry Vigilant On Zika Virus Spread, Including Our Olympians for Rio

The Zika virus which is spreading rapidly in Brazil and other parts of South America, has the potential to have the same impact here.

But thanks to the proactive stand taken by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, we have yet to record a case. However, this should not allow us to rest on our laurels. The mosquito vector for Zika and dengue thrives in our sub-tropical climate.

In fact, the mosquito vector for Zika and dengue (Aedes Aegypti) is abundant in Fiji.

Last year a surveillance operation was activated. This included the clean-up campaigns against mosquito vectors for dengue (which is the same vector for Chikungunya and Zika virus).

Minister for Health Jone Usamate yesterday reiterated that they are working with their staff on the ground.

Central sites have been established around the country to collect data if cases do arise.

“If there are cases of Zika, it will be addressed and the guidelines on how to deal with the screening. We know that our neighbours in Samoa and Tonga have a number of cases.

“It could be present in Fiji or may not be present. We don’t know, but we are vigilant – that if it does happen we will be ready to deal with it. Currently, there are no cases of Zika virus in Fiji,” he said.

A worry for Fiji is the participation of our Olympic athletes in Rio de Janeiro in August.

So far the medical team that will be part of the contingent to the Rio Games has been in contact with the ministry’s communicable disease specialists.

Relevant advice on prevention and protection from Zika virus infection has been imparted to the medical team.

The risk of importation of Zika virus by returning athletes was acknowledged and also stressed to the medical team.

Here are some things you need to know about Zika released by the World Health Organisation:

 

Prevention

Prevention and control rely on reducing mosquitoes through 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.

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