The Ministry of Health is tonight advising the general public to protect themselves from mosquito bites due to the recent confirmation of the first 5 cases of Zika virus in the Caribbean by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). It is the first time that countries within the Americas such as Brazil, Colombia, Suriname and the Dominican Republic have all reported cases of this mosquito-borne disease this year.
Based on CARPHA’s information, the Ministry of Health is preparing for the introduction of this disease based on the most recent experience with Chikungunya which spread throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, including Belize within less than one year.
Zika is a viral disease, transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the same vector for Dengue and Chikungunya. The symptoms of Zika last approximately four to seven days, and are similar to Dengue and Chikungunya which may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. Though complications from Zika are rare and no deaths have been reported, there is no vaccine or treatment for the disease.
The public is asked to destroy mosquito breeding sites in and around homes and surrounding areas by keeping water drums tightly covered, draining stagnant water from yards and neighborhoods and throwing out stagnant water from flower vases, old tires and other containers that may act as breeding sites.
Members of the public can also protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing or long pants, using insect repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets. More Information will be provided by the Ministry as it becomes available.
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