One of the preventative measures utilised by the Public Health Ministry against the Zika virus is to encourage the use of chemically treated bed nets. Since the Ministry heightened its campaign against the mosquito-borne virus, it has distributed over 5000 of these bed nets countrywide. Additionally, 75,000 more are available for distribution.
Since the first case of the Zika virus was confirmed in Guyana in January last in a resident of Covent Gardens, followed by a 16-year-old from Eccles, two persons from Diamond and one from Timehri all on the East Bank of Demerara, the Ministry embarked on a campaign of vector control, public education and distribution of treated bed nets.
According to a GINA report, the Ministry’s Vector Control Services (VCS) is coordinating the fogging exercise which is continuing in several areas, including wards of the city. The distribution of the treated nets is currently ongoing countrywide, with emphasis on expectant mothers. There have been over 80 suspected cases with no deaths occurring from the Zika infection.
Currently, Guyana has to send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago for testing for the virus, but one Medical Technician is currently undergoing training at the institution. Upon completion, that person will operate the equipment already in place to test for vector borne diseases at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory (NPHRL), thereby eliminating the need to send samples to CARPHA.
The first case of the Zika virus was reported in May 2015, in Brazil; since then it has made its way to about 30 countries in the Western hemisphere. Signs and symptoms of the Zika virus 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 is no direct treatment developed for the illness.
Individuals are encouraged to take precautionary measures such as the use of insect repellants, treated bed nets, and long sleeve clothing to avoid mosquito bites. Household insecticidal sprays, coils, candles, screening of windows, doors and other openings can also aid in reduction of mosquitoes in the home.
The Public Health Ministry continues to monitor ports-of-entry countrywide for the virus. The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has set up a ‘war room’ to monitor information in the case of a major disease outbreak.