Published On: Thu, May 21st, 2015

Jamaicans urged to destroy mosquito breeding sites amidst zika virus outbreak in Brazil

ferguson-zikaGENEVA, Switzerland - Following meetings at the World Health Assembly now taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, and subsequent to a warning issued by the Pan American Health Organization regarding an outbreak of the zika virus in Brazil and the potential of the virus to spread to other countries, permanent secretary Dr Kevin Harvey has urged residents to take the necessary precautions to rid their surroundings of any place mosquitoes could breed.

Harvey is currently attending the WHA along with Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson.

“The Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads the zika virus is generally found in and around places where people inhabit. Persons are urged to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites by getting rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle, punching holes in tins before disposing, and covering large drums, barrels and tanks holding water,” he explained.

The zika virus is from the same family as and is similar to dengue with symptoms that include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs. After the bite of an infected mosquito, symptoms usually appear following the incubation period of 3 – 12 days. The symptoms last for 4 – 7 days. No deaths due to the zika virus have been recorded worldwide to date.

The zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya and dengue. Brazil confirmed its first cases of the zika virus in May this year.

“The ministry of health is taking this potential threat very seriously. I urge Jamaicans to do their part to prevent mosquito breeding and so help to reduce any possibility of the introduction of the zika virus into the island. There is no specific vaccine or treatment for the virus and so personal responsibility is key,” he said.

The zika virus was first isolated in 1947 in a Rhesus monkey in the Zika Forest, Uganda. It was first isolated in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania. Outbreaks have been seen since then in countries including the island of Yap (2007), French Polynesia (2013) and Brazil (2015).

Caption: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Dr Kevin Harvey (left) and Minister of Heath, Dr Fenton Ferguson (right) participate in the 68th World Health Assembly being held in Geneva, Switzerland from May 18 -23, 2015. JIS Photo

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