MOH talks Zika at public meeting in Caye Caulker
As the Zika virus continues to spread across the region and Belize, the Belize Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), held a public meeting on Thursday, September 15th, on the island of Caye Caulker. Zika is now considered endemic on La Isla Cariñosa. While Ambergris Caye was trying its best to avoid the new vector-disease, which is transmitted by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, representatives from MOH on La Isla Bonita have confirmed the bad news – seven cases of the contagious virus, from samples sent in August, have returned positive with the virus.
Badillo assisted in organizing the public forum to provide vital information to the local population regarding the disease. It was emphasized that in case of contracting the disease, over-the-counter medications such as aspirin should not be taken, due to the severe complications it can cause.
The presenters, however, shared with the audience that once an individual becomes sick, the person becomes immune to the virus. In affected areas, the virus remains in males from the time of contracting to about six months. At this level, the disease is referred to be in an acute stage, and conceiving is strongly discouraged. Another vulnerability in this stage is that only 20% of persons who have the virus show any symptoms.
Any suspicions of the disease should be reported to the local health centres. Seeking attention at private clinics, which are beginning to offer a speedy test, is strong discouraged. “Those express tests are not accurate, thus, we continue encouraging everyone to report any potential cases to the relevant authorities,” said Badillo.
Currently, tests are only being offered to pregnant women, children between the ages of 0-5 and elderly persons above 65 years of age. Badillo explained that the MOH can only send a certain amount of specimens to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad and Tobago where Zika testing labs are located.
Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun