A section of Georgetown, Guyana. (Guyana Informationa Agency)
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GEORGETOWN – Ministers and other officials from the Ministry of Public Health along with officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry met yesterday with regional and international stakeholders to discuss collaborative efforts to stave off the Zika Virus.
Among those present were UNICEF representative to Guyana and Suriname, Marianne Flach; director general of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Audrey Jardine- Waddell; deputy head of Mission of the Brazilian Embassy, Sabinie Popoff and programme manager of health sector development at CARICOM, Dr Rudolph Cummings.
The meeting was held following the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the Zika Virus as a public health emergency of International concern.
The regional and international representatives gave assurances of their support to Guyana, where there has to date only been one case of the virus.
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton, stressed the importance of all relevant stakeholders being involved in addressing the public health concern, hence the meeting with regional and international representatives.
The Ministry of Public Health, through the Vector Control Services (VCS) currently has a schedule of fogging exercises for eight of Guyana’s ten administrative regions, with the remaining two regions to be added soon. House to house activities and the distribution of mosquito nets continue.
Director of VCS, Dr Horace Cox said that very soon, there will be intensified surveillance at ports of entry, as well as the availability of public education material.
He stressed the importance of community participation and urged persons to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate possible breeding sites of the vector.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the aedes aegypti and aedes polynesiensis mosquitoes and people should avoid being bitten, by wearing light coloured clothing which covers their body, including arms and legs, applying insect repellent to exposed parts of the body and using household insecticide sprays, coils and candles.
Additionally, all efforts should be made to control possible breeding sites around the home, such as open black tanks, tyres, plant containers and other vessels which harbour fresh water.
The Zika virus is considered a self-limiting disease, with symptoms lasting four to seven days. It appears as a very moderate disease, with fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, rash and sometimes swelling of the limbs. Some persons may also experience vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
Pregnant women, especially, are advised to sleep under a mosquito net, since the Zika virus is being linked to some abnormalities in developing foetuses. (GINA)