WHAT IS ZIKA?
Zika is an infection caused by the Zika virus. This virus is transmitted by a mosquito bite from the Aedes aegypti. The same mosquito that transmits Dengue and Chikungunya is also responsible for the tranmission of Zika. Scientists have also described cases where Zika was transmitted through intercourse.
Symptoms can appear after 3 to 12 days of having been bitten by an infected mosquito. These are as follows:
- non-purulent conjunctivitis or very red eyes;
- headache, body ache and pain in the joints;
- swollen legs.
Less frequent symptoms are: pain behind the eyeball (like in dengue), loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and bellyache. Symptoms can last from 2 to 7 days. Based on currently available information Zika is not considered a fatal disease. Patients with Zika present less severe symptoms compared to Dengue and Chikungunya. There is no treatment to cure Zika and no vaccine to protect against Zika.
Visit your doctor if you develop the symptoms described. Your doctor may prescribe something to help with the fever and pain. If the doctor finds the symptoms similar to Zika she may decide to request a laboratory test to determine if it concerns a real case of Zika virus infection.
COMPLICATIONS WITH ZIKA
Paralysis: Although most cases of Zika will develop only relatively light symptoms, scientific information of past and present epidemics in larger countries indicates that Zika is related to increase of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). GBS is a type of paralysis resulting after an infection (viral or bacterial). GBS can last for a short or long period; the patient can recover completely or partially; but sometimes GBS can end in death.
GBS is not new to Curaçao. From past and current epidemics in other parts of the world, Zika may increase the chances of GBS, what makes us believe we have to expect more cases then is usual for Curaçao.
Pregnancy: Information obtained from the current epidemic in Brazil indicates that Zika infection during pregnancy is related to miscarriage, death of the newborn and cases of microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby is born with a smaller head then is normal and is related to developmental problems and can lead to death.
Since Zika is acquired thru a mosquito bite, the general prevention measures, as with dengue and chikungunya, are not to let yourself be bitten and to avoid growing mosquitoes.
Please read the documents: “How to prevent growing mosquitoes” and “How to avoid mosquito bites”.
Once there is someone ill with Zika in your household, it becomes very important prevent mosquitoes from biting the person who is ill as well as the healthy household members. The mosquito becomes infected with the virus if it bites the sick person. The infected mosquito will be able to spread the disease to other persons of your household and your neighborhood.
Due to the risks related to Zika infection during the first months of pregnancy and the unborn child, it is of the utmost importance that pregnant women follow the recommendations to protect themselves against mosquito bites. If you develop rash, red eyes or joint pain with or without fever visit your doctor, explain your symptoms and if necessary indicate that you are pregnant.
ELIMINATE MOSQUITO BREEDING PLACES
It’s important to eliminate all breeding places of the mosquito inside and around your home. The mosquito Aedes aegypti, which transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, lives very close to people. The female mosquito needs blood for her eggs for which she prefers human blood. Of course she will not hesitate to bite pets also if she really needs to.
She lays her eggs in clean and serene waters. She will use any container in or around the house that holds water. Even after the container in which she laid her eggs becomes empty, the eggs will keep for up to a year and once wet again will continue with their development.
Walk around your garden and take notice of clutter lying around that has the potential of holding water. In order to eliminate mosquito breeding places we have to follow these instructions every week:
- Put away, organize or get rid of, every object that can catch and hold water.
- Clear away mosquito eggs (rim of black dots like dust) with a hard brush or coarse sponge if the object cannot be tidied up.
LIST OF THINGS TO MONITOR, CLEAR UP OR ELIMINATE INSIDE AND AROUND THE HOUSE:
- Keep tires underneath a covered area, cover them or use them in some project. The mane thing is to not leave them lying around collecting (rain) water.
- Get rid of discarded appliances like stove, fridge, washing machine as well as old cars. Take care that appliances in use do not become a container that collects water.
- Used (empty) bottles should be discarded. Remember to fill with sand or cement the broken bottles used on fences.
- Cans, cups and foam containers, thrown around and in our “mondi’s” are of real concern. Remember that even a small bottle cap can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes!
- Put away toys that can hold water.
- If there is in your surrounding a puddle that keeps water for longer than a week, fill it up with dirt or level the ground so the water will be able to drain.
- Vases and plant trays should be cleaned weekly to eliminate mosquito eggs as explained above. Mosquito eggs can also stick to plant roots (e.g. ivy and bamboo) or cuttings held in water, wherefore they should be rinsed and the water changed regularly. The best solution is to plant these as soon as possible. It’s very in these days to use decorative vases and (empty) pots around the garden, these should either be filled with soil or a hole should be drilled in the bottom for easy drainage.
- Wash pet bowls at least once a week.
- If you keep a rain barrel for the collection of rainwater you’ll have to cover it with either a piece of cloth or netting to keep the mosquito away from the water. A word of caution: don’t let the cloth/netting get below water level, also be sure not to use some material that will also hold water like a piece of plastic.
- Fill up hollow building blocks and hollow fence posts with cement or soil.
- Put guppies or other larvae eating small fish in water tanks or reservoirs rather than insecticides. If you want to use an insecticide call and make an appointment with the Public Health Office to evaluate the product you can and the amount you should use.
- Kiddy pools, ponds and sandboxes not in use, all have the potential to become a breeding spot, as well as an unused boat. Use it, clean it, treat it, put it away or turn it upside down, just make sure it doesn’t keep water. Make sure that pools are used and/or treated.
- Clean gutters regularly.
- Flush a not frequently used toilet at least once a week. Make sure the tank cover is intact and fits properly