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Don’t panic over Zika virus, health authorities tell Seychellois

Victoria, Seychelles | February 3, 2016, Wednesday @ 12:44 in National » HEALTH | By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 10738
Don’t panic over Zika virus, health authorities tell Seychellois

Aedes aegypti during blood meal ( Wikimedia commons)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Pregnant women in Seychelles should not panic over the Zika virus given that no cases have been recorded locally and preventive measures are in place, health authorities said Tuesday.

Despite the calming words from authorities, some expecting mothers in this island nation say they are fearful over the health scare.

Fears over the virus have been growing as more reports link the Zika virus with birth defects, including microcephaly, when a child is born with an abnormally small head, in Brazil.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday declared the Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern.

The Zika virus is transmitted by the type of mosquito that also transmits dengue and chikungunya. Seychelles, an island nation in the western Indian Ocean, has seen both diseases in the past.  

The Zika virus poster produced by the Ministry of health as part of the sensitisation campaign ( Ministry of Health) Photo License: CC-BY

“I am really scared because there is actually a possibility that the virus can spread” in Seychelles, Miriam Michel, an expecting mother, told SNA on Tuesday.

The Seychelles public health commissioner, Jude Gedeon, said in an interview on Tuesday that island officials are advising people, especially pregnant women and those planning to get pregnant, to avoid going to countries where the virus is in circulation, including Brazil, French Polynesia and some islands in southeast Asia.

Gedeon is calling on anyone who has travelled abroad to consult a doctor if they come down with fever, bloodshot eyes, rashes or joint and muscular pain.  

“They need to report to any nearest health centre as doctors have been alerted on what to look out for and collect samples of blood or urine for testing,” Gedeon said.

Health authorities with the World Health Organization liaison office in Seychelles met this week and shared information on the virus as well as the local diagnostic and surveillance capacity.  

WHO official Humphrey Karamagi told SNA that there is no need for Seychelles’ residents to panic and that the health ministry has a lot of experience in responding to health emergencies like dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

“At present there is no proven link between the Zika virus and the associated signs which have been seen in Brazil, so people should not panic,” says Karamagi.

Seychelles is reinforcing existing preventive measures in line with the WHO declaration, said the principal health commissioner Jude Gedeon.

“We already had prevention measures in place. We only need to reinforce surveillance at the port of entry and ensure that all airplanes are sprayed properly,” said Gedeon.

Karamagi says the Zika virus itself is just a mild infection and the international community is still trying to analyse whether there is a real link to the babies being born with head deformities.

In the latest development, authorities in the U.S. on Tuesday confirmed the virus had also been passed via sexual intercourse. 

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Tags: Zika virus, WHO, dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever

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