New mosquito virus nears Caribbean

Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, has potentially made its way to northeastern Brazil. Public health officials in Cayman are warning people who travel to affected areas to be on the lookout for symptoms.

Officials say Zika spreads through the same mosquito, Aedes aegypti, as chikungunya and dengue, and the symptoms are similar. The Pan-American Health Organization warned recently that the virus is present in northeastern Brazil.

Cayman’s chief medical officer Dr. Kiran Kumar, in a press release, said, “Whilst there have been no cases of Zika in the Caribbean, an alert is being issued as a precautionary measure. The public is urged not to be alarmed in hearing the name of another mosquito borne disease.”

He noted that people should follow standard procedures for avoiding any mosquito-borne viruses, such as wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts when mosquitos are active, and using bug spray with DEET.

Mosquito Research and Control Unit director Dr. Bill Petrie said there’s a surefire way everyone in Cayman can help cut down on the virus-carrying mosquitos: “This mosquito breeds only in water-holding containers in yards around houses and premises, and the best way to protect yourself is to discard such containers and remove any garbage, and to cover drums which may be used for holding water.”