Zika virus is a concern Says Health Promotion/Education Director

In this Feb. 1, 2016 photo, a technician from the British biotec company Oxitec, inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. The company said tests begun last April as part of a dengue-fighting program in the small southeastern city of Piracicaba suggested the release of the GM males reduced the wild Aedes larvae population in the target neighborhood by more than 80 percent. Brazil is in the midst of a Zika outbreak and authorities say they have also detected a spike in cases of microcephaly in newborn children, but the link between Zika and microcephaly is as yet unproven. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

By Sarjo Camara Singateh

The director of health promotion and education Modou Njai has described the Zika virus as a concern as it is a disease that spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. He said it can also be transmitted through sex by an infected man.

Njie said this in an interview with Foroyaa on August 1, 2016 at his office to shed light on the current Zika status in the sub-region.

On the mode of transmissions, he said people can also get zika through sex with an infected man, and the virus can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. He said the most common symptoms of zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) Mosquito that spread zika bite during the day time.

Mr. Njai said the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. He noted that there are instances when people usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they rarely die of Zika. “For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.”

The director of health promotion and education said many people with zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms. “Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people”.

He noted that a blood or urine test can confirm a zika infection.

On treatment, he said there is no vaccine to prevent zika or medicine to treat the virus. “To treat the symptoms: get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenor ) or paracetamol to reduce fever,” he adviced.

He also noted that a zika case was discovered in the West African nation of Cape Verde.

According to Njie, Zika is a member of the firus family flaviviridae and the genus flavivirus, transmitted by day time-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A, aegypti and A, albopictus. “Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947”.

The director of health promotion and education noted that the zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. “Although it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia, it did not begin spreading widely in the western Hemisphere until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil”

He adviced people not to take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding. “If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider before taking additional medication. If you have zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness, during the first week of infection, zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. “An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people”

He urges people to sleep under a mosquito bed net if they are overseas or outside and are not able to protect themself from mosquito bites. He stated that for people to protect their babies they should not use repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. He further stated that people should not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.

He assures the general public that there is no cause to panic because the Gambia has not witnessed any case yet and they have already levelled the ground in case of any unexpected case.