Residents of St. Kitts and Nevis are advised that an outbreak of a virus infection called Zika was recently reported in Suriname. This is the first confirmed outbreak in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Spread of the virus to the island chain is inevitable because of the scale of travel. However, there is no cause for alarm and panic.
Zika is not new; it was discovered in the 1940’s. In 2014, the first case in the Western Hemisphere was confirmed in Chile.
Typical symptoms of Zika infection are fever, eye inflammation “red eye”, aches and pains, rash and swelling of the legs and feet. Zika is not known to be fatal.
There is no medication cure and no vaccine. Affected persons may require paracetamol and fluids. Full recovery is expected in a less than one week.
ZikaV is spread from person to person by the bite of the Aedes mosquito – this mosquito also spreads Yellow Fever, Dengue and Chikungunya.
Prevention measures are well-known to residents. Aedes is not a swamp mosquito; it is a household mosquito.
Aedes breeds in any container that has water. The most common breeding sites are pots, pans, cans, tyres, drinking troughs for animals, flower pots, Styrofoam containers and water storage drums that are not properly covered.
The Environmental Health Departments on both islands have increased their mosquito eradication efforts.
However, maximum prevention and control require residents to do their part to eliminate breeding sites in their homes, yards and surrounding areas. Therefore, residents are asked to continue searching for and destroying all mosquito breeding sites inside and outside their homes, and in nearby places including ghauts.
For further information and assistance, residents can contact the Environmental Health Departments on both islands, the nearest community health center or their personal physician.