The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning on Friday informing pregnant women to avoid travelling to fourteen specific countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean due to the fact that the mosquito-borne virus Zika, can currently be found in all of these countries.
Some of these areas include Belize’s neighboring countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and Honduras.
The Zika virus is believed to be the main cause of Microcephaly, a birth defect in which infants are born with a head and a brain that is smaller than usual; this can lead to intellectual disability. There were approximately 3,500 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil between the months of October in 2015 and early January of this year. CDC is advising pregnant women to consult with their doctor or healthcare provider before they leave their country of origin and to follow the instructions that are given to them.
The zika virus is transmitted by the same vector that carries both dengue and chikingunya and the symptoms include fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, eyeball pain, weakness, red rash consisting of tiny bumps, swelling on the lower limbs, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea, abdominal pain and conjunctivitis. These symptoms can last for up to a period of seven days, however, only one in every five person infected with the virus will experience these symptoms.
So far Belize maintains itself free of the virus but that does not mean that the Ministry of Health is not monitoring the situation. In an interview last week, Epidemiologist, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, stated that when it comes to Belize, the Ministry of Health is looking at key areas where testing can be done to determine any outbreak of the virus. He also mentioned that they have contacted the CDC regional advisor with the aim of being granted access to the institute laboratory in Panama for potential testing and to be on the ‘lookout’ for any increase in micro cephalic cases.
Viewers are reminded that there is absolutely no cure for the Zika virus at this point in time and the best way to prevent the disease is by getting rid of mosquito bedding sites.
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