Authorities react to threat
The government will not alarm pregnant women against travelling to Samoa but should they choose to, they are warned that there are plenty of mosquitoes.
That said, the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, maintains that there is no need for Samoa to panic as the alert for Zika virus hits a new level in the region and around the world.
Leausa gave the assurance during a press conference earlier this week.
“In our own local situation, as we have said before, the last two positive cases were in 2015,” he said. “As of today, we are still monitoring and awaiting further results that we have sent to the I.L.M Lab in Tahiti.”
Despite the gap in the number of cases, Leausa said the Ministry of Health is taking all the necessary steps to warn members of the public to clean up areas where mosquitoes could congregate. This comes at a time when the country is also struggling with dengue fever.
“We are looking at doing a lot of mosquito control,” he said. “We want to control it because it’s the same mosquitoes that carry the ZIKV.”
Leausa said the worldwide panic about the Zika virus has been sparked by reports on the connection between the virus and birth defects.
“That is why ZIKV is a very serious infection,” he said.
“If you look at all the documentations and the recommendations coming out, it’s better not to become pregnant around this time of the year.”
Asked if Samoa is Zika-free, Leausa would not say yes.
“Since we’ve had those two cases last year, there has been a big gap in terms of new positive cases,” he said.
“There were also reports that there were people who came to Samoa and returned to New Zealand and got sick.
“So I think we need to caution the pregnant women that if they do come, then they take the risk because we cannot guarantee that we are mosquito free.
“But I still feel if we have good control of the mosquitoes, then obviously the risk is less for them especially if they come and stay in hotels because the chances of them being bitten by a mosquito are low.”
The Director General added that if there was a Zika epidemic in Samoa, the tourists would be advised against coming.
“[But] as of now we are still in a monitoring state,” he said, adding that the Ministry of Health is working with officials from United States to monitor the situation.
“Their global travel section were the ones who posted about the Zika virus in Samoa because they know that we were the last country last year to post a positive case,” he said.
“But as I said there were cases in Fiji and French Polynesia they never posted about. Tahiti is a tourist destination and they never did.”
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 and feet
Also a history of travel to affected areas or regions with ZIKV outbreaks Uganda, Brazil and America.
ZIKA VIRUS CLINICAL PRESENTATION:
• The Symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue (DENV) and chikungunya, which are diseases caused by the other viruses spread by the same type of mosquitoes.
• About 1 in 5 people infected with ZIKV become ill
• The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes. Other symptoms included muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and vomiting.
• The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days a week.
• Severe disease requiring hospitalization is in common.
• Death due to ZIKV has not been reported.
• There is no medicine to treat ZIKV.
• Treat the symptoms by getting plenty of rest and drink fluids to prevent dehydration.