Public health officials issue alert about mosquito-borne virus

The Cayman Islands Public Health Department has issued an alert for the Zika virus, which causes a dengue and chikungunya-like sickness and is transmitted by mosquitoes.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the Cayman Islands, there have been five confirmed cases in the Caribbean region. There have also been six confirmed cases in Paraguay, one in Guatemala, three in El Salvador and Mexico, and four cases in Venezuela.

Symptoms of the Zika virus, which occur three to 12 days after the bite of an infected mosquito, include fever, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis, headache, nausea, and rash, and last four to seven days. There is no vaccine, but symptoms can be treated with pain relievers such as Paracetamol. Drinking lots of fluids can be helpful, as well.

According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, there is not yet any serious public health impact from the virus in the region.

Nevertheless, Cayman Islands Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez urges the public to remain on alert and practice precautionary measures for protecting against mosquito bites.

“This includes wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants when outside during times that mosquitoes bite, and using mosquito repellent with DEET on the skin,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said in a press release. “Caution should also be taken to prevent mosquitoes breeding in and around homes.”

Mosquito Research Unit Director Dr. Bill Petrie said the unit is continuing to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the primary carrier of the virus.

“We encourage residents to help prevent mosquito breeding around yards and homes by removing potential water containers such as discarded tyres and Styrofoam lunch boxes, and by turning over buckets and covering drums,” Dr. Petrie said in a statement.



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