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Zika threat real, warn officials

After confirming three local cases of the Zika virus on January 14, the Ministry of Health said today it was awaiting the results of a further 27 samples that were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing.

In the meantime, it is encouraging members of the public to take the necessary precautions to stop them from being bitten by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

“This warning is especially relevant for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age, due to reports of an increased risk of giving birth to babies whose head circumference is less than expected for age and sex,” the Ministry said in a statement released by the Government Information Service this evening.

It also advised residents to take protective measures, including sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net; wearing tops with long sleeves and long pants, especially during the hours of highest mosquito activity (morning and late afternoon); and using mosquito repellents with DEET applied according to manufacturers’ instructions.

“Members of the public are also strongly advised to take steps to reduce mosquito breeding by removing potential mosquito breeding sites, such as discarded containers, coconut shells, and other places where water can be collected,” the statement said, adding that the Ministry of Health’s Environmental Health Department was intensifying its vector control programme through fogging of high risk areas for mosquito breeding, house to house inspections and other community mobilisation activities.

The Ministry also reminded the public that controlling mosquito breeding was a shared responsibility and it was therefore imperative that everyone played his or her part.

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