WHO: Take action against Zika

National 1 minute, 54 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE World Health Organization (WHO) is urging the public to take action to stop the Zika outbreak from spreading.

Dr Graham Harrison, the representative to Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, said people must carry out preventative measures to eliminate vector breeding sites as the Zika virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

“Awareness is critical, but so is action... Individuals in the community have to do their part, because the Ministry of Health and the authorities can only do so much,” he said.

While there have been no reported cases of the Zika virus in Brunei, local authorities have warned the sultanate is potentially at risk of infection as the Aedes mosquito responsible for carrying the disease is present in tropical countries.

The Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects and neurological problems, was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the WHO on Monday.

“At the moment, we don’t have effective vaccines for (the Zika virus) so it’s about vector control. It’s about controlling the mosquitoes and this requires people in their homes and workplaces to deal with anywhere the mosquitoes are breeding,” said Dr Harrison.

He explained mosquitoes are known to lay their eggs in bodies of stagnant water such as in buckets, flower pots or tyres.

“We have to get people to be prepared to spend a few minutes going around their house or neighbourhood and make sure there’s no water collecting, and work together to eliminate where mosquitoes might be breeding,” he said.

The representative also advised the public to protect themselves while outdoors by wearing appropriate clothing and using mosquito repellent.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control, the Zika virus is now in more than 20 countries, mostly in Central and South America. However, imported cases have also been recorded in Thailand and Taiwan.

Pg Dr Hj Mohd Khalifah Pg Hj Ismail, the director-general of health services, previously advised travellers who develop symptoms after returning from affected countries to seek medical attention.

Some patients infected with the Zika virus may experience fever, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, conjunctivitis and rashers. However, current evidence indicates that most cases of infections do not show any signs or symptoms.

The Brunei Times