The Ministry of Health has confirmed three cases of the Zika virus in Samoa.
The confirmation came in a Zika Virus Situation Report issued by the government yesterday.
“During the dengue virus (DENV) outbreak, there were suspicions that Zika virus (ZIKV) was also circulating in the community,” the report reads.
“Since then there have been three confirmed ZIKV cases out of 40 specimens taken in two separate batches in September and October, 2015.”
The Ministry did not reveal the details about the patients and whether they have been treated.
But the Ministry urges everyone to take extra care.
“Everyone is asked to educate themselves on ZIKV and avoid getting sick,” a statement from the Ministry said.
“This is especially focused on pregnant mothers and Ante-natal clinic staff and Clinicians are asked to take note and advice on ZIKV illness, due to the Brazil experience.”
The ‘Brazil experience’ refers to reports that an outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil last year has been linked to birth defects (microcephaly).
The Ministry of Health said more information is required to substantiate the claim.
As for the Zika virus, the infection is a mild febrile mosquito-borne viral illness, transmitted by the bite of certain Aedes mosquito species. It is a flavivirus closely related to the dengue virus. It was first isolated in 1947 from rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda, in Africa.
“As you are aware, Arboviral outbreaks with CHIKV, DENV and ZIKV have been circulating in the Pacific Islands and beyond for a number of years now.
“It had been identified in Yap state in 2007; French Polynesia 2013 and New Caledonia in 2014; in 2015 it had been in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.”
Helpful information for the public
Generalized maculopapular rash (usually starts on the face) AND two or more of the following signs and symptoms:
• arthralgia or myalgia
• red eyes or non-purulent conjunctivitis
• pain behind the eyes
• edema or painful joints of hands or feet
Also a history of travel to affected areas or regions with ZIKV outbreaks Uganda, Brazil and the Americas.
Zika Virus Clinical presentation:
• The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue (DENV) and chikungunya (CHIKV), which are diseases caused by other viruses spread by the same type of mosquitoes
• About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
• The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting.
• The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
• Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
• Deaths due to Zika have not been reported.
• There is no medicine to treat Zika.
• Treat the symptoms:
◦Get plenty of rest
◦Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
Take paracetamol (panadol) to relieve fever and pain.
Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out due to the risk of bleeding.
Public Health Prevention:
• Prevent mosquito bites – by dress with long sleeves; use mosquito repellants and insecticide; screen houses and sleep in mosquito nets especially for babies, pregnant women, elderly and people with co-morbid conditions;
• Source Reduction - by cleaning up your living environment/ destroying all Mosquito Breeding sites such as old tyres, plastic containers and bags, clear blocked gutters and re-new standing water inside and outside houses etc…