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Screen_Shot_2016-02-22_at_8.18.21_PMThe mosquito borne virus known as Zika has been a topic of major concern in many Central American countries and has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization because of its association with microcephaly which is the condition in which babies are born with abnormally underdeveloped heads.


But while the Zika Virus continues to plague neighboring countries, Belize remains free of the disease. Some weeks ago three suspected samples had been sent for testing at the CARPHA laboratories in Trinidad, of the three samples only one had been sent back, which was negative for the Zika virus.


Late last week officials from the Ministry of Health received the second result which also came back negative. Today we spoke to Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Russell Manzanero who told us more about the good news.

 

Dr. Russell Manzanero


“The female individual has been experiencing fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, like pink eye, she was actually in Benque Viejo when she started with the symptoms so on the third day she was experiencing the symptoms she started with a general rash so we took samples in Belize for dengue and chikungunya and Zika and those were sent to CARPHA and the results came back late last week and they were negative for Zika, and from today the samples that we continue to send are negative so we are just keeping our surveillance tightened in the event anything should appear.”

Dr. Manzanero also spoke about the special measures being taken by the Ministry of Health to prevent any future Zika cases in Belize.


Dr. Russell Manzanero


“As the ministry we are actually engaging with the region that we have in the north; what we are doing is actually having our teams from here going out and meet with the surveillance committee on the districts and we sit with them and we revise our surveillance plans that they have ready established for dengue and chikungunya, we are trying to tightened our surveillance in regards to the same mosquito, so measures from vector control, from public health, communication awareness, engaging with city council, village council, schools, appearing in the local media all of that is what we are encouraging on that it gets done.”


Because the virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito, Dr. Manzanero also sent out precautionary measures to the public on how to minimize mosquito bites in order to help in the fight of Zika prevention.


Dr. Russell Manzanero


“We were trying to tightened the whole surveillance aspect in respect to public awareness, it is the community responsibility as well, you need to do your part, make sure you clean up your areas, have the yards clean, don’t have anything with water, try to avoid the peak biting hours that they are, if you are going outside make sure that you use long sleeves, repellants, pretty much applies to everyone that are at risk and the same measure that you’ve been taken before the same and now so that is what we are advising so it is your responsibility we are doing our part so the community had to do their part.”


Some of the most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye. These symptoms are usually mild, and can last from a few days to a week and anyone who experiences these symptoms are advised to seek medical attention. 

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