This week a first case of locally transmitted Zika was confirmed on Saba. It is the second confirmed case, after a first imported case one month ago.
Limited risk of complications from Zika
Currently, the number of mosquitoes on Saba is relatively low. This reduces the chance of the virus spreading to other people. Zika virus poses a limited risk to the majority of people. Around one in five people infected with the Zika virus develop symptoms. Most people recover within a week, without any serious problems.
Nevertheless, it is of high importance to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, to reduce the chance of the Zika virus to further spread on Saba. Also, as the Zika virus has been linked to brain malformation in the unborn child, pregnant women, women who want to become pregnant and their partners, are advised to closely adhere to preventive measures. Therefore, read and practice the recommendations listed below carefully. The Public Health Department does urge anyone feeling ill, especially with a fever, rash, eye infection or joint pain, to see one of the doctors at the Saba Healthcare Foundation. Pregnant women and women who want to become pregnant are advised to discuss their situation and preventive measures with their GP.
Advice to prevent mosquito bites
This case of Zika is a strong reminder for everyone, especially pregnant women, to take measures to prevent mosquito bites:
• Use insect repellents on exposed skin. Insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin (also known as icaridin), oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535 are the most effective and safe when used according to the label. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
• Where possible, wear light coloured long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes to minimize exposed skin.
• When indoors use air conditioning or a fan, if available, and keep the doors and windows closed, unless they are screened, to keep out mosquitoes.
• As the virus can be sexually transmitted by men, partners of pregnant women and women that want to become pregnant should also be very strict in taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites. And are advised to contact their health care provider.
Commissioner of Health Rolando Wilson: ‘Everyone on Saba has a task to limit the risk of Zika. Without mosquitoes there can be no disease, so remove, treat, cover or empty any open containers on your property on a weekly basis. And don’t litter, as empty bottles or cans can be perfect breeding grounds too.’
For further advice or for mosquito control product, feel free to call the department of Vector Control on 416-2273 or 416-3229. For assistance with removing unwanted items from your property you can call public works on 416-3219. Additional information about the Zika virus can be found online via www.cdc.gov/zika and at the Facebook pages of ‘Saba Health Care Foundation’, and ‘Public Health Department Saba’ or talk to one of the healthcare professionals at Saba Health Care Foundation.