Feb 1, 2016 (GENEVA) The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an emergency over the spread of Zika virus in the Americas. This is because of the suspected ties to microcephaly and other neurological malformations in fetuses of women infected with the virus. According to the Washington Post.
Much of the alarm about Zika comes from reports from Brazil, the epicenter of the outbreak, where Zika is suspected as a cause of what may be up to thousands of babies being born with abnormally small heads and incomplete brain development. Researchers are also investigating a possible link between the virus and a surge in Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition that can lead to paralysis that have been documented in Brazil, French Polynesia and El Salvador.
This disease is spread by the byte of an Aedes mosquito, and this is the third time that the WHO issues such a warning, with the first being the spread of the H1N1 virus, also known as the swine flu. Though there is no reason to issue a travel restriction at this time.
CNN reports that the United States Virgin Islands have been added to the list of places pregnant women should not visit.
In the United States we have seen 35 confirmed cases, that came from people traveling to infected areas, This includes one woman that was pregnant and gave birth to a baby with a small head in Hawaii. Health authorities do not expect, at this time, to see local infections in the contiguous United States, but this is not an exact science.
For the moment the advise given by the health department regarding mosquitos and yellow fever, applies to Zika as well. This is the same same mosquito that can spread yellow fever. The Health Department has no record of an infection in San Diego at this time.
This is the recommendation from the WHO on what to do about mosquitoes and tropical diseases.
What measures should be taken to prevent Zika virus infection?
Prevention involves reducing mosquito populations and avoiding bites, which occur mainly during the day. Eliminating and controlling Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites reduces the chances that Zika, chikungunya, and dengue will be transmitted. An integrated response is required, involving action in several areas, including health, education, and the environment.
To eliminate and control the mosquito, it is recommended to:
- Avoid allowing standing water in outdoor containers (flower pots, bottles, and containers that collect water) so that they do not become mosquito breeding sites.
- Cover domestic water tanks so that mosquitoes cannot get in.
- Avoid accumulating garbage: Put it in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.
- Unblock drains that could accumulate standing water.
- Use screens and mosquito nets in windows and doors to reduce contact between mosquitoes and people.
To prevent mosquito bites, it is recommended that people who live in areas where there are cases of the disease, as well as travelers and, especially, pregnant women should:
- Cover exposed skin with long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and hats
- Use repellents recommended by the health authorities (and apply them as indicated on the label)
- Sleep under mosquito nets.
People with symptoms of Zika, dengue, or chikungunya should visit a health center.