General

Caribbean Public Health Agency warns about Zika virus outbreak

By Ingrid Fernandez
Staff Reporter

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), this week, confirmed five cases of the Zika virus in the Caribbean and has issued a cautionary note for all nations in the region to be alert.

Belize’s Ministry of Health (MOH) is preparing for the arrival of the Zika viral disease in the country, based on the most recent experience with the Chikungunya virus which spread throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, including Belize within less than a year.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the same vector for Dengue and Chikungunya, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. In the Americas; Brazil, Columbia, Suriname and the Dominican Republic have already reported cases of the mosquito-borne disease this year.
The disease is accompanied by symptoms similar to the Dengue and Chikungunya viruses. These include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. The symptoms may last approximately four to seven days.

Although complications from Zika are rare and there have been no deaths reported so far, because of the lack of treatment or vaccine, the Ministry of Health cautions the general public to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
People can protect themselves against mosquito bred diseases by destroying breeding sites in or around the home.

The public is advised to keep water drums tightly covered; drain stagnant water from yards and neighborhoods; and throw out stagnant water from flower vases, old tires and other containers.

People can also protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Using repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets are effective ways to prevent infection.

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