Jun 03, 2016 News
– Health Ministry, M&CC to intervene
Fear of the Zika virus has unsettled some residents of McDoom, East Bank Demerara. And they are fearful that the possible source of the Zika situation is a nearby vulcanising business.
The residents explained that while from the front the business operation seems void of possible breeding places for mosquitoes the rear of the location is laden with used tyres.
According to one resident, the community of McDoom has for sometime been plagued with mosquito infestation and a number of residents have since manifested symptoms that are synonymous with the virus. Even persons who visited for the recent Golden Jubilee celebration reportedly developed symptoms associated with the virus, this publication was told.
While health officials have maintained that most people may not manifest symptoms of the virus, it has been established that symptoms could include: fever, muscle and joint pains, headache, rash and conjunctivitis (commonly referred to as red eye).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while the incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for the virus is not known, it is likely that this could occur within a few days to a week.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which also transmits the Chikungunya Virus and Dengue Fever. The mosquitoes are able to breed around homes especially in collections of fresh water such as open black tanks, tyres, roof guttering, plant containers and other vessels.
According to the main spokesperson for the residents, several attempts were made to have the owner of the business place remove the tyres, to no avail.
Reports suggest that because the tyres are not covered they are able to store accumulated water from rainfall, thereby creating a suitable breeding haven for the mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus.
The McDoom residents brought the alleged situation to the attention of this newspaper after reportedly trying to seek assistance from various institutions, including the Ministry of Public Health.
But when contacted yesterday, Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, as well as a senior official attached from the Vector Control Services Unit, insisted that the situation had not gained their attention.
However, an official at the Vector Control Services Unit informed that while a team will be dispatched to the area to advise against the storage of the tyres, enforcement will fall within the purview of the Mayor and City Council of Georgetown (M&CC).
M&CC’s Public Relations Officer, Ms. Debra Lewis, yesterday assured that she would bring the situation to the attention of the Vector and Rodent Control Unit of the municipal’s Public Health Department, which she expects will attend to the issue as early as today in the quest to have the mosquito-borne threat halted.
As at last month, the Ministry of Public Health was able to confirm nine cases of the Zika virus. Although the symptoms of the virus often last for several days to a week and those infected could be protected from future infections, it has also been linked to more severe conditions. Health officials have been able to conclude that the virus is associated with the Guillian-Barré syndrome (a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system) and microcephaly (a birth defect where a baby’s head is abnormally small).
There have been reports, too, that the virus could also be transmitted sexually.
It has also been deduced that the Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected persons for about a week, but it can be found longer in some people.
Persons can seek to prevent mosquito bites by wearing light-coloured clothes that cover the body, arms and legs. They can also help to protect themselves by using insect repellents to exposed body parts and use household insecticide sprays, coils and candles to ward off mosquitoes. However, if someone manifests symptoms of the virus, they are encouraged to visit the nearest health facility.
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