Friday, February 23, 2018

Zika reaches Tobago: Pregnant woman tests positive

The Division of Health and Social Services (DHSS) in Tobago is reporting its first confirmed case of the Zika virus on the island. 

This case is a pregnant female in her mid-30s, who accessed care on June 14 at the Scarborough General Hospital for signs and symptoms of the Zika virus.

Zika causes relatively mild symptoms in most adults, but it can cause devastating birth defects in babies that include microcephaly, where an infant is born with an abnormally small head and brain, leading to severe mental and physical disability.

The Division has mounted an immediate response through the Tobago Public Health Emergency Response Team (TPHERT). Surveillance continues, as well as measures to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito population, the vector that spreads the Zika virus. The Division is reminding everyone to take measures to avoid being bitten by the mosquito.

“Awareness and being proactive is one of the best ways we can avoid contracting the Zika virus,” County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) Dr. Vishwanath Partapsingh said.

“We have been preparing for the virus in Tobago, and we continue our programme of educating the public, as well as vector control, to minimise the chances of the virus spreading. The public has an important role to support these efforts by taking steps to avoid being bitten and by removing possible breeding sites.”

Such precautions include using properly secured bed nets, and wearing light-coloured clothing that covers your arms and legs. The use of insect repellent containing 20 per cent DEET as an active ingredient is also recommended. It is also important to dispose of all unwanted containers or other items that can collect water and serve as mosquito-breeding sites, and tightly seal all water storage containers, including tanks, barrels and buckets, with a mosquito-proof covering. The public is also reminded to support by clearing drains and guttering to allow the free flow of water, and to empty and scrub all water vases frequently, or consider using dirt or sand instead of water to support flowers. The Division remains committed to securing the health of the Tobago population.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health, following consultation with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), disclosed that the number of confirmed cases of Zika Virus in Trinidad had reached 83.

At the time, there were no confirmed cases in Tobago.

Steps you can take to limit your chances of being infected.

Dispose of all unwanted containers/items in the yard or environs which can collect water and become mosquito breeding grounds. ·       Cover water containers such as barrels, drums or buckets with a mosquito proof covering. Ensure that your drains and guttering allow the free flow of water. Empty and scrub the sides of water vases or use dirt or sand instead to support flowers. Cover extremities when out in the evenings. Use bed nets that are tightly tucked under the mattress for protection at night. Use insect repellent that contains DEET as an active ingredient.