BTB monitoring Zika

Posted: May 17, 2016. 7:00 p.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Ministry of Health is conducting surveillance following the confirmation of the first case of Zika in the country. BTB logo

Other sectors are also monitoring the issue. Today the Belize Tourism Board issued a press release that educated more on the virus and what measures can be taken to minimize risks.

The BTB first explains that the virus is spread by mosquitoes and symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). “The illness is usually very mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon,” it adds.

The virus has been detected “sporadically for many years in Africa and Southeast Asia,” it adds. It has been detected in fourteen Central and South American countries including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. It has recently surfaced in several states in the USA.

The virus, the BTB continues, is of importance now as it is linked to microcephaly, a disease in which babies are born with a smaller head and underdeveloped brains. US health officials are heading to Brazil, where there’s been a recent spike in the birth defect, to further study the actual risk to pregnant women.

While it is of international concern, hospitalizations are rare and few deaths have been reported. There is currently no vaccine for the virus.

Since the virus is spread by mosquitoes, keeping yards clean of stagnant water to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes is highly recommended. “They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person,” says the BTB release. As a result, it gives the public steps it can take to limit the spread of the virus, including:

* Stay informed about the Zika situation in your country, and in other Caribbean countries.

* Provide staff and guests with information on Zika so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms, how Zika is transmitted and how it can be prevented.

* Consider insect repellents in every room, or having them available for purchase.

* Avoid storing water in outdoor containers that can collect water to prevent them from becoming mosquito breeding sites.

* Cover water tanks or reservoirs so that mosquitoes do not get in.

* Avoid the build-up of garbage, which can act as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Put garbage in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.

* Uncover/unblock gutters and drains to release stagnant water.

* Install mosquito screening on windows and doors to help reduce contact between mosquitoes and guests.

* Consider supplying guests with bed nets in areas where the sleeping quarters are exposed to the outdoors.

© 2016, This article is the copyrighted property of Breaking Belize News. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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