Pan American Health Orgainsation’s (PAHO) Country Representative, Dr. William Adu-Krow, said there has been no new case of the Zika virus detected in Guyana. He also assured that the situation is still being monitored and samples are being sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing.
The vector borne disease is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The first case of the virus was reported in May, 2015 in Brazil, and since then it has made its way to 24 countries in the Region.
A ‘war’ room has been set up by PAHO along with the aid of UNICEF to monitor information, in the case of any major disease outbreak.
Further, Port Health Officers are present at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, the Ogle International Airport, along with all other ports of entry countrywide. These officers are monitoring these points for individuals traversing to Guyana who may exhibit signs of the illness.
Dr. Adu-Krow also pointed out that the illness, which is most serious in pregnant women, has two direct threats. These are a birth defect to children, whereby their brains are damaged and their heads are small and another whereby some women develop neurological paralysis as a result of the disease. Signs of the illness include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, rash and sometimes swelling of the limbs. Some persons may also experience vomitting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
There has been no direct treatment developed for the illness, but patients are treated with basic pain killers.
In order to control the spread of the Aedes mosquito, individuals should conduct systematic searches in and around their environment for any stored or exposed body of water and remove them. These form breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Additionally, persons should clear their environs of unnecessary materials such as tyres, punch holes in discarded containers and properly cover containers with stored and drinking water, pour a little oil in contained water for domestic use, and change water regularly in vases, pet containers and plant saucers, since these also attract vectors.
PAHO is also advising that individuals take precautionary measures such as the use of insect repellants; mosquito treated nets, long sleeved clothing and avoid wearing dark colours to attract mosquitoes.
Natural substances, household insecticidal sprays, coils, candles, screening of windows, doors and other openings among other things can aid in reduction of mosquitoes.
Persons who travel to Guyana should inform the Port Health Authority at the airport, seaport or land crossing or contact the nearest health facility, if they experienced symptoms of fever within the last week. The necessary advice and follow-up care would be provided.
A meeting will be held in Geneva, on Monday, February 01, where global heads will be deciding whether Zika will be pronounced as a pandemic. However, according to Dr. Adu-Krow, the situation has not reached that stage in this region.