Things that can be done to help prevent Zika Virus and Chikungunya a educational campaign to get rid of all standing water in yards. Cooking oil place in vats and ponds. Fogging or spraying at midday plants in yards and dark cool spaces to kill mosquito while sleeping. Use of long sleeves and long pants in swamp areas. Screens and Mosquito nets. Neme tree seedlings available cheap for planting in yards.
The Belize Tourism Board continues to receive updates from the Ministry of Heath regarding the Zika virus. Getting you updated information as it becomes available is a top priority. In the meantime, below you will find:
1. Key Message for you to utilize in communicating with your visitors and guests.
2. Update from the Ministry of Health
3. General information about the virus as well as general questions you or your visitors may have about its impact.
KEY MESSAGE: At this time, it is important to note that the Zika virus has not spread to Belize. As a precaution for visitors traveling to the Belize, you are encouraged to wear long sleeves and long pants and/or liberally apply insect repellent when appropriate. We remain in contact with the Ministry of Health and the Belize Tourism Board regarding the Zika virus and will continue to share information as it becomes available.
Update from the Ministry of Health (MOH)
The Ministry of Health has been sensitizing the media and has sent out three (3) press releases on the Zika Virus, dating back to November of last year.
Note also that the MOH is utilizing the same plans that were developed for Dengue and Chikungunya, as they are all transmitted by the same vector.
The MOH is aware of the ongoing news stories and queries via media (social and printed) but the following is the updated position on Belize:
- There hasn't been a confirmed case of Zika in Belize
- We are looking at avenues for testing for Zika beyond sending the samples to Trinidad (so far the Gorgas Institute in Panama has offered to help)
- Our efforts in terms of spraying and vector control measures continue
- As soon as we have any other major information, we will be passing that along to all relevant stakeholders
We will also be providing relevant updates on our social media pages.
General information about the ZIKA virus
1. What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually very mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe symptoms requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
2. How does the virus spread?
It spreads exclusively through mosquitos. These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
3. Where have outbreaks occurred?
Outbreaks of Zika have sporadically occurred for many years in areas of Africa and Southeast Asia. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. It has been found in 14 Central and South American countries: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. It has recently surfaced in several states in the USA.
4. Why is it of concern now?
There's been growing evidence linking Zika infection in pregnant women to a rare condition called microcephaly, in which the child is born with a birth defect where the head is smaller than normal and the brain has not developed properly. U.S. health officials are heading to Brazil, where there's been a recent spike in the birth defect, to further study the actual risk to pregnant women.
There is no medicine or vaccine for the Zika virus. Hospitalizations are rare and no deaths have been reported as a result of the virus.
5. What you can do to limit the spread of the virus:
· Stay informed about the Zika situation in your country, and in other Caribbean countries.
· Provide staff and guests with information on Zika so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms, how Zika is transmitted and how it can be prevented.
· Consider placing and having insect repellents in every room, or having them available for purchase.
· Avoid storing water in outdoor containers to prevent them from becoming mosquito breeding sites.
· Cover water tanks or reservoirs so that mosquitoes do not get in.
· Avoid the build-up of garbage, which can act as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Put garbage in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.
· Uncover/unblock gutters and drains to release stagnant water.
· Install mosquito screening on windows and doors to help reduce contact between mosquitoes and guests.
· Consider supplying guests with bed nets in areas where the sleeping quarters are exposed to the outdoors.
Exactly. Now let's use a little commonsense. Every country surrounding Belize has cases of Zika. Offshore Islands like Cayman & Puerto Rico have Zika. Belize claims no known cases however it admits that it can not easily test for Zika. What a surprise.
Personally as much as I'd love to see them I advised my son and his pregnant wife not to visit in Feb. like they had planned. They agreed. If she wasn't pregnant well OK but they have already seen enough drama in their lives and a life time is a long time to care for a disabled child. Overly cautious, probably.
SICA Member States Meet to Address Emergency Health Issues Associated with Spread of Zika Virus in the Region
On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, officials from the Ministries of Health and Foreign Affairs of Belize participated in a regional videoconference organized by the Government of Honduras, current Presidency Pro-Tempore of the Central American Integration System (SICA), to discuss the regional health implications from the Zika virus.
The objective of the meeting was to coordinate regional positions and actions to ameliorate the number of infections and agree on a sustained action plan to work towards the eradication of the Zika Virus.
The Pan-American Health Organization has committed to providing all its resources to assist the region in its response to eradicate the Zika Virus and its possible correlation to microcephaly that has been affecting newborn babies of mothers infected with the virus. Research is also being conducted to ascertain a possible link to the Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
The Ministry of Health has engaged in a country-wide campaign of spraying and assisting in the removal of possible stagnant water that are breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito that is also a carrier for Dengue fever, Malaria, and Chikungunya. The Ministry is also finalizing the national preparedness and response plan to combat the Zika virus.
The Hon. Pablo Marin, Minister Health, headed the Delegation of Belize. He was accompanied by Dr. Ramon Figueroa, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health; H.E. Lawrence Sylvester, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, and other officials from the Ministry of Health.
Representatives of the Ministry of Health and PAHO on Belize's Plan for Zika
7 Facts You May Want to Know About the Zika Virus
Health experts and organizations around the world have admitted they know very little about the Zika virus, even though it was first discovered almost 60 years ago. Some experts are linking the concerning spread of the virus today with climate change and the El Niño phenomenon.
However, an Indian pharmaceutical firm claimed Wednesday to have developed the world’s first vaccine against mosquito-borne Zika.
"On Zika, we were probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago," Krishna Ella, chairperson and of Bharat Biotech Ltd told NDTV.
The WHO recently warned that this year about 4 million cases of Zika will affect the Americas.
Germany recently claimed it developed the first test to determine if somebody has the virus.
In the meantime, here are eight facts you may not know about the virus.
1. What is Zika?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that was first discovered in 1947. Named after the Zika forest in Uganda where it was discovered.
It is largely transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes but can also be spread through sexual and blood contact, including transfusions though this is very rare.
So far there has been three cases of sexual transmission—the first one being in 2008 when a doctor returned to Colorado from Senegal and passed it to his wife.
According to NPR, the doctor had detected blood in his semen prior to having sexual intercourse with his wife.
While the virus isn’t anything new, this is the largest outbreak of the it in recorded history.
2. What are the symptoms?
The symptoms, which are typically mild, include low-grade fever, rash (flat with small red bumps), joint pain, headache, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis. Due to the symptoms, Zika is often misdiagnosed as dengue fever, another mosquito-borne illness, according to the World Health Organization.
3. Is there a cure?
There is no cure, vaccine or treatment for Zika virus. Most medicines are aimed at treating the symptoms not the actual disease.
Mosquito control including bug sprays, nets, water treatments, and the removal of standing water is, for the time being, the best way to combat the virus. Also, avoiding unprotected sexual contact with someone who may have been exposed.
4. Who is at greatest risk?
Pregnant women. Nothing is conclusive yet, but Brazil and international health experts are analyzing the link between babies born with microcephaly and the fact their mothers were apparently infected with the virus during pregnancy. Also, some patients seem to have developed the Guillain Barre Syndrome or GBS, a neurological disorder that causes the immune system to attack the nervous system, leading to muscle disorders and even paralysis, according to the WHO.
5. Where has Zika been detected?
Cases have already been confirmed in at least 24 countries. Pan American Health Organization warned the Zika will spread to the 33 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and southern parts of the United States. The WHO also warned Zika is “spreading explosively,” and has called it a public health emergency of international proportions. Brazil is the epicenter of the outbreak. At least 3,700 cases of microcephaly have been reported. In Colombia, at least 2,000 pregnant women have been diagnosed with Zika. In total, there are at least 20,000 cases there.
This Wednesday, five cases were reported in Germany in people who had recently been to Latin America. In the United States, cases have now been detected as far as Georgia
6. What is the response for far?
Caribbean and Central America are responding to the outbreak, encouraging women not to get pregnant (also sparking debate considering abortion rules).
A regional meeting was held today in Uruguay to discuss how to respond to the crisis.
Possible solutions have included using nuclear radiation to zap sperm of male mosquitoes, combined with other strategies to stem the spread of the virus
7. What is the cause?
The Zika virus is connected to climate change. As global temperatures rise and there are changes in precipitation patterns, there are more environments where mosquitos that carry the virus to survive.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control just released this map showing the countries that have detected Zika. They obviously failed to include the United States and Germany.
10 reasons you shouldn’t cancel your Caribbean trip over Zika
The spread of the Zika virus in the Americas, including countries in the Caribbean, and the possible link to birth defects such as microcephaly (babies with small heads) have left many people – especially pregnant women – wondering whether they should cancel their holidays to the region.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and individual countries have advised their pregnant citizens not to, and some airlines and cruise lines are offering refunds and/free penalty-free changes.
But the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) say there is no reason to panic or to put travel plans on hold.
Here are 10 reasons why, based on a list of Frequently Asked Questions the two have put out.
1. The Zika outbreak has been concentrated in Brazil and South America, with approximately 1.5 million suspected cases in Brazil. By contrast, there have been around 200 suspected cases in the Caribbean, spread across about a dozen of the region’s 30-plus countries. Most individuals who contracted the virus have already recovered.
2. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not issued any travel restrictions to affected countries.
3. It’s too early to tell but all indications are that there are very few cancellations as a result of Zika. The Caribbean set a record for visitor arrivals in 2015 and all indications point to continued growth and its popularity as one of the world’s most desirable warm weather destinations.
4. The WHO and other health agencies, including the CDC, have said that Zika symptoms for the vast majority of people are mild and last two to seven days. In fact, according to the WHO and the CDC, four in five people who contract the virus never know they got it, and if you get it once you develop immunity for life.
5. The WHO itself has stated several times that it has no proof of a link between Zika and microcephaly. In fact, there is other research that suggests there is no link and that there are other causes of the suspected rise in cases in Brazil. There are also no reported cases of microcephaly linked to Zika outbreaks in other countries or regions. Also, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), microcephaly is extremely rare in the Caribbean and there are no cases linked to Zika.
6. Based on the evidence, the Zika virus does not pose an extraordinary threat to visitors to the Caribbean. The CTO and CHTA say they will continue to closely monitor developments and if fresh evidence emerges that suggests otherwise, it will advise accordingly.
7. You just need to travel sensibly and to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself against insect bites, including mosquito bites, in very much the same way you would on any holiday in any tropical country. Visitors are encouraged to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using long lasting repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on exposed skin. Many visitors come to the region to enjoy the sunshine, so they’re advised to use both sunscreen and insect repellent. Apply the sunscreen first, then the repellent.
8. Caribbean countries and hotels continue proactive measures similar to those used to combat other mosquito-borne viruses. Staff and guests are being provided with the necessary information so they become familiar with how it can be prevented, how it can be transmitted, its signs and symptoms. Insect repellent containing DEET is being placed in hotel rooms, or made easily available for purchase. Many CTO and CHTA member countries undertake national clean-up campaigns to try to eradicate breeding grounds, while an increasing number of hotels install mosquito screens on windows and/or supply guests with bed nets in areas where the sleeping quarters are exposed to the outdoors
9. The CTO and CHTA remain in close contact with CARPHA to monitor and research the Zika cases in the Caribbean and to communicate prevention and control measures to residents and visitors, while the health authorities in member countries are taking the necessary steps to limit the number of new cases.
10. The Caribbean remains open for business and safe for travel. The CTO and CHTA say they will continue to work closely with CARPHA to assess the situation, but they encourage visitors to continue with their travel plans to the Caribbean and follow the advice and precautions issued by the WHO, similar to those which are provided to travelers to most tropical destinations.
San Pedro Town Council and Ministry Of Health Unite For A Zika Free San Pedro - With the recent Zika situation in the region, The San Pedro Town Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Health has embarked on a proactive approach to ensure that our island, as well as the entire country of Belize, remains Zika free.
This plan of action is in accordance with the national plan of action that the Ministry of Health has embarked on. The San Pedro Town Council and the Ministry of Health are therefore encouraging all islanders to do their part to prevent all forms of mosquito-borne diseases and keep our environment and island clean.
Get rid of all water catchment that can be possible mosquito breeding sites; such as tires: old cans, coconut shells, old refrigerators, drums and soda caps.
Keep your yard and surrounding properties clean and free of garbage.
Open doors and windows when the San Pedro Town Council trucks are conducting mosquito fogging (spraying) in your area.
The Ministry of Health and the San Pedro Town Council will continue to carry out normal standard procedures to get rid of mosquitos and possible breeding sites such as:
a. ULV spraying on the entire island
b. Distribute granular Abate upon request at the San Pedro Town Council Barracks.
As with any confirmed vector transmitted diseases, the San Pedro Town Council and the Ministry of Health have a standard procedure in place as an intervention measure for the island. This includes, but is not limited to larviciding, thermal fogging, inspection and treatment of water storage containers on premises.
The San Pedro Town Council and the Ministry of Health are also working on other educational and preventive initiatives to combat mosquito-borne diseases. Personal prevention measures, such as the use of insect repellent are also strongly encouraged.