Health chief assuages fears

By Diedre Fanene ,

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HEALTH DIRECTOR GENERAL: Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

HEALTH DIRECTOR GENERAL: Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

The Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, has assuaged fears about the Zika virus in Samoa.

 “There is nothing to worry about,” he said. 

Leausa gave the reassurance yesterday after his Ministry confirmed that three cases of the virus were found in the country last year.

The confirmation comes amidst global concerns that the virus is linked to birth defects. 

The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. 

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.

According to a Zika Virus Situation Report issued by the Ministry of Health, although it confirmed cases of the virus in Samoa, it does not say who was diagnosed or which village they come from.

The Ministry also does not say if fumigation measures against mosquitoes have been considered for the areas where people diagnosed with the virus live.

Yesterday, Leausa said that although there is nothing to be alarmed about, members of the public still need to be alert to make sure their families are protected.

“Our advice to people is to make sure their homes are mosquito free,” he said.

Leausa also stressed that the cases of the virus found in Samoa were discovered last year. There are no recent cases, he said.

 “The three cases that were reported was last year around September and October,” he said.

“The first case was September and then the other two were around October.”

Leausa said the number of Zika virus cases was nowhere near the level that was reached by the Chikungunya virus.

“There is a big gap,” said about the number of cases between the viruses.

 “We have had presentations to suspect it and we sent tests overseas but none of those tests came back positive.

“Even New Zealand and Australia contacted me but I have told them that we are not aware of any new cases except for the cases from last year.”

 

Helpful information for the public 

Case Definition:  

Generalized maculopapular rash (usually starts on the face) AND two or more of the following signs and symptoms: 

• fever 

• 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: 

Symptoms 

• 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. 

 

 Treatment 

• 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… 

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