MOH Statement on Zika
MOH Statement on Zika2/2/2016
Zika is viral disease, caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. Currently, the possibility of access of the diseases to the Sultanate is very low. The disease is still confined in the Americas and some adjacent islands and as travel associated sporadic cases in some other countries. So far, no local cases were detected in any of the other Continents. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is following closely the spread of Zika in those countries.
The Sultanate has a competent public health expertise and epidemiological surveillance systems to detect and deal with such cases. The health workers in the health institutions, as well as in the central laboratory have been trained to test for chikungunya and dengue. These skills have prepared the central public health laboratory for Zika testing. The Ministry is working and preparing for this disease through the following;
1) Alert the healthcare providers and the public about the disease, mode of transmission and prevention.
2) Providing the diagnostic tests in the Central Public Health Laboratory, (expected to arrive to the Sultanate within the coming weeks).
3) Supporting mosquito control programs, the potentials to control the insect vector and eliminating the breeding areas by drainage the stagnant water pools or remove the water rafting, even if it is small quantity, in the empty cans, tyres and containers of flowers, etc.
In 1952, Zika virus was identified in human in Uganda and the United Kingdom of Tanzania. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been reported for the first time from the Pacific in 2007 and 2013, and recently in the Americas. In addition, number of countries reported the Zika virus in the late of January 2016 has reached to 27 countries. It is transmit to the human by the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito when suck the blood of one of the infected patient. Symptoms of the disease may include fever, skin rashes, conjunctives, muscle and joint pain, malaise and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for several days. It requires no specific treatment and the deaths are rare.
WHO has declared that the recent Zika situation constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International concern. It was noted a marked increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) cases and fetus with microcephaly in most of the affected countries. The WHO agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven.
Since there is no available vaccine or medicine for Zika disease, the preventive measures requires the pregnant women to postpone travel to the infected countries for her safety, as well as for her baby’s safety. In case of travel, the travelers should protect themselves by avoiding mosquito bites through the following:
- Wearing long-sleeved clothes that covered as much of the body as possible.
- Using the insect repellents that can also be used by the pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers.
- Using the permethrin treated clothes including boots, pants, socks, tents and mosquito nets.
- Avoiding sleeping outdoors.