We have confirmed information that the Zika virus has made its way to Saba. The importance of protecting yourself against mosquito bites and removing potential mosquito breeding places is higher than ever. To do so successfully, we need verybody’s help. Therefore, we kindly ask you to carefully read the attachments and practice all advice provided.
What is Zika?
Zika is a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes to humans. Only 1 out of 5 infected persons get symptoms, so most persons won’t know they are infected. However, even if you don’t know you have the virus, you can still transmit it to other persons. This means that it is very important that everybody takes precautions, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. If people do get symptoms, common symptoms include joint pain, a pink rash, headache, red eyes and fever.
Most people recover after one week. However, there is a chance that the virus can lead to brain malformation in the unborn child. Therefore, it is very important that pregnant women are very careful to prevent mosquito bites. The Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted. So, partners of pregnant women should also be very careful in taking precautions.
What will happen with Zika on Saba?
It is not clear if, or how fast, the virus will spread on Saba. This is the first time that the Zika virus is introduced on the island. Hence, nobody has had it in the past. If you had Zika once, you cannot get it again (i.e. you become immune). Currently, not many people are immune to Zika.
This means that if people get bitten by an infected mosquito, they are likely to become infected (with or without symptoms). If Zika will spread on the island, it will only last for a limited period of time. After that, the majority of people are immune and the virus cannot spread anymore.
Therefore, we advise women who want to become pregnant, to delay this for six months. By then, the virus will probably no longer be a risk and you can become pregnant without worrying about mosquitoes.
What is the government doing?
As soon as we had the confirmed information, we convened a meeting with all relevant departments and the Saba Health Care Foundation in order to take extra measures on top of the measures that had already been taken. For example, the patrol of the department of Vector Control has been intensified. The Saba Health Care Foundation has contacted all known pregnant women. Due to the small risk for unborn children, the pregnant women have been offered a Zika test. Furthermore, the Public Entity has (and will) spread information about Zika and prevention of Zika through various ways. In the following period, the relevant departments and the health care professionals will meet on a regular basis to monitor the situation and to adapt measures if necessary.
What can you do?
In the attached flyers, you will find information about what you can do to protect yourself from mosquito bites and how to remove potential mosquito breeding places. If you have the above mentioned symptoms or if you have any questions, contact your health care provider.
A message from the 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.’
On Behalf of The Executive Council of the Public Entity Saba