DON’T FEAR ZIKA
“Do not be scared of Zika.”
This was the message conveyed by
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the Department of Health in Central Visayas (DOH-7), following reports that there are nine new cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the country, including one in Cebu City.
In a press conference at the DOH-7 office Wednesday morning, Bernadas said Zika is not as severe as dengue fever, another disease caused by a mosquito bite.
“There’s nothing to be afraid about Zika. There’s no such thing as severe forms of Zika. It’s only manifested by fever, and infection brought about by the virus ranges from mild to moderate,” he explained.
“We shouldn’t panic because in the first place, there’s nothing to panic about,” he added.
A 22-year-old woman from Cebu City who is nine weeks pregnant was confined in a private hospital last Sept. 9 after she suffered from fever, headache, and rashes. Blood samples taken from her showed that she was positive for the Zika virus.
She was discharged from the hospital after four days, Bernadas revealed.
“In cases of Zika, isolation is usually done at home. Those diagnosed with the virus don’t have to be confined in hospitals. They just have to make sure they won’t get bitten again by mosquitoes,” Bernadas said.
According to Bernadas, at least five members of the woman’s household are also being monitored by DOH.
Bernadas said blood samples were taken from them to find out whether or not they were also bitten by mosquitoes with Zika virus.
He refused to give further details about the woman and her family to protect their identities.
A team from DOH-7 has been visiting the family to conduct regular checkup.
“As soon as the results are released, I will inform you,” Bernadas told reporters in a press briefing yesterday.
The DOH-7 director cautioned pregnant women to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, saying the Zika virus can affect fetuses.
“The possibility that it can affect a fetus, however, is just 10 percent and so far, in Asia, there were no reported cases that Zika affected fetuses of mothers diagnosed with the virus,” he explained.
Bernadas advised those with Zika to avoid sexual intercourse for two to three months, saying the virus stays longer in sexual fluids.
“Aside from transmission via mosquito bites, Zika has been documented to be transmitted sexually,” Bernadas said.
The Zika virus, he said, dies down in six weeks.
Aedes aegypti mosquito is Zika virus’ primary carrier, the same vector responsible for dengue fever and chikungunya, Bernadas said.
“We have but one and the same enemy,” he said.
To get rid of the Zika virus, Bernadas appealed to everyone to clean their respective surroundings and to throw away empty containers that can hold stagnant water.
“Please, throw away empty containers that may accumulate water. Clean all your downspouts in your homes, as well as the pit traps in your kitchens and comfort rooms,” he said.
“Also make sure not to throw away or to cover used tires and water containers. These can become breeding sites of mosquitoes,” he added.
While mosquito repellents help, Bernadas said the best way to get rid of mosquitoes that carry the Zika and dengue viruses is to clean the surroundings.
He asked local government units (LGUs) to lead the way and to constantly remind people about cleanliness.
“The solution to the Zika virus is sanitation at homes and communities. We remind LGUs to be vigilant against the spread of mosquito-borne diseases by eliminating their breeding places,” he said.
Symptoms of the Zika virus include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, and conjunctivitis.
Anyone who experienced the symptoms of the Zika virus should see a doctor, Bernadas said.
The Zika virus is not new in Cebu.
In 2012, an American woman who visited Cebu tested positive for the Zika virus upon returning home, an indication that mosquitoes carrying the disease are lurking somewhere in the island.
Rise in dengue cases, too
Meanwhile, the DOH-7’s Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU-7) has recorded 12,387 dengue cases in Central Visayas from Jan. 1 to Sept. 3, 2016.
At least 106 persons died of dengue.
The figures were way higher than last year’s 4,847 cases and 24 deaths caused by dengue.
Based on the data released by RESU-7, the youngest victim of dengue in 2016 was a two-day-old baby while the oldest was 100 years old.
About 51 percent of those affected by dengue were male, the RESU-7 report said.
Majority of the dengue cases were recorded in Cebu City (14.3 percent), followed by Mandaue City (4.6 percent), Toledo City (3.9 percent), Lapu-Lapu City (3.2 percent), and Balamban town (2.9 percent).
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