The Zika virus disease has been declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) now. In Barbados, this time there are four confirmed cases of Zika. The Caribbean Public Health Agency has indicated that so far 18 of the 27 samples which were recently sent have been tested for Zika and are negative. It is important to be aware that the situation related to the Zika virus and its emergence in the Americas region and the Caribbean is still evolving. This disease is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito (the same mosquito that transmits dengue and chikungunya). The symptoms of Zika virus infection include rash, fever, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis, headache and feeling unwell.
Communications Strategy to support the fight against Vector Borne Diseases
Usually, the consequences of the Zika Virus are mild; however, microcephaly in children (babies born with abnormally small heads) and Guillain–Barré syndrome (a rare neurological disorder) have become the real concerns of the world. The Zika Virus is also a sexually transmitted disease (transmitted by a man to his partners), which is why it is recommended that the couples should use a condom while having sex. Stay informed about the Zika Virus disease! Stay safe!
Vector eradication programme
- The objective of this programme is to significantly reduce or eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the vector for Zika, Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. The components of the programme include social communication, epidemiological surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, environmental management, clinical case management and integrated vector management.
- Intensification of public education to focus both on mosquito control and behaviour modification at the household level.
- Provision of guidelines to healthcare providers for the treatment and management of Zika, a virus infection.
- Pregnant women can be infected with the Zika virus in any trimester of pregnancy and should take all necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites and avoid travelling to places affected by Zika. Women who are pregnant and have any of these symptoms are advised to contact their doctor as soon as possible for advice on testing and further management.
- Wear clothes that cover the skin, use insect repellents, install insect screens and doors and windows, and sleeping under a mosquito net
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around the home and work environment by checking your premises daily to remove any collections of water that are likely to breed mosquitoes.
The Ministry of health has issued bowl text interim guidelines to healthcare providers in Barbados caring for pregnant women at risk for infection with the Zika virus. These guidelines include recommendations for prevention, testing, treatment, and management of suspected and confirmed cases of Zika Virus in pregnant women. Doctors have been asked to notify suspected cases of the Zika virus based on the combination of clinical features, and have been given guidance on testing for priority groups. These are pregnant women, people who are hospitalised for treatment and those with neurological features, suspected to be associated with Zika, a virus infection. Therefore, not every individual may need to be tested and that decision will be based on the judgment of the doctor.