Caribbean authorities have begun preparations by launching campaigns in order to raise public awareness about the quick spreading of the Zika virus. Their main aim at this point in time is to educate the public about the virus itself, how it can be detected, and the necessary treatment needed if infected with the virus.
During a press conference via a webcast, Joy St. John, director of the Unit of Vigilance, Prevention and Control of diseases from the Caribbean Public Health Agency, stated that there is a high probability of the zika virus’ arrival in majority of the countries located within the Caribbean region due to the rate at which it is being spread throughout the region.
St. John also stated that reported cases of the virus has been confirmed in Guyana, Barbados, Suriname and Haiti, and emphasized that it is the obligation of the Caribbean to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus by informing their citizens of any reported cases and alert them to follow proper methods so as to minimize the spreading of the virus.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization has also expressed their interest in the close observation and investigation of any confirmed cases of the virus and stated that they will be collaborating with the Caribbean Association of hotels and tourism to agree on methods of prevention and control for residents as well as for vacationers who visit many tourist destinations in the Caribbean region.
And in light of the Zika Virus, the Pan American Health Organization issued a statement based on the transmission and prevention of the virus, as it is expected that it will continue to spread rapidly and that it will eventually arrive in all countries and territories where the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes can be found.
PAHO stated that the most effective methods of prevention are: Eliminating the potential breeding sites of the mosquito that contain water so as to control its population and using other personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites.
While it is suspected that the zika virus might be the cause of a birth defect known as Microcephaly, PAHO advises that pregnant women should avoid mosquito bites and if they are planning to leave the country to visit areas that the virus can presently be found in, they should consult a doctor or healthcare provider before they depart as well as upon their arrival, and one case of possible sexual transmission has been described, yet, sufficient evidence is essential in order to confirm whether or not zika can be transmitted through sexual contact.
PAHO along with its member countries are working in partnership in an effort to strengthen vector-control, inform the public about the potential risks of the virus so that it can be prevented, and to improve close observation of both the virus as and the effects that it causes.
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