HEALTH AUTHORITIES DECLARE OUTBREAK OF NEW VIRUS IN SOLOMONS

Zika virus can be transmitted by a similar dengue mosquito. Photo credit: zipheal.com

Zika virus can be transmitted by a similar dengue mosquito. Photo credit: zipheal.com

The Ministry of Health and Medical Services has declared an outbreak of a new mosquito-spread virus in the country.

Called “The Zika Virus”, it is being transmitted by the same mosquito species that transmits dengue.

Under Secretary for Health Improvement, Dr Chris Becha declared the outbreak during a press conference in Honiara today.

The Under Secretary explained Zika is a mild disease transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

He also announced the Ministry of Health will use the same strategy it used to combat dengue to fight the Zika virus.

“Zika is a mild disease that is transmitted to humans by the same species¬†of mosquito that transmit dengue, so at least we all know that the what the culprit is that is spreading this virus. We already know that the dengue is with us so the same strategy that we the Ministry will take will be the same as for dengue.”

People and children suffering the Zika virus will experience fever, red eye, rash, joint pain which lasts for two to seven days.

Dr Becha says there is no vaccine to treat the virus, but people can treat themselves at home.

“Its symptoms includes fever, redeye, joint pain mainly in the hands and feet and a rash that often starts on the face and spreads throughout the body and it usually lasts for two to seven days. There’s no vaccine available to prevent it, but people can treat the symptoms, for instance taking paracetamol to reduce fever and care for our children at home, just like we did for dengue fever.”

SIBC News understands the Ministry of Health is partnering with the World Health Organisation to monitor the health situation and to develop effective responses.

Meanwhile, health authorities have confirmed at least one person has been positively diagnosed with the Zika virus.

The Under Secretary for Health Improvement, Dr Chris Becha says the case was confirmed by blood samples sent to a WHO Collaborating Centre in French Polynesia returned positive.

The Under Secretary says the person is a 33-year old man who has almost fully recovered in Honiara.

“One case of Zika in the Solomon Islands has been confirmed by the Ministry. Blood samples were confirmed at the WHO Collaborating Centre in French Polynesia, Tahiti. We don’t have a laboratory in the country, so with the assistance from WHO we can send samples to French Polynesia which returned positive. This case is a 33-year old male in Honiara and currently he is almost fully recovered.”

The Under Secretary also announced the National Surveillance Unit is investigating additional cases and further samples have been sent for testing.

“So there are suspected additional cases currently being investigated by the Ministry of Health, so our surveillance¬†team or unit has given further samples sent for testing and so in the next couple of weeks we should receive some more results.”

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