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Zika alert

Pregnant women warned over virus

The Ministry of Health is warning of the likelihood of a rise in the number of Zika cases with the onset of the rainy season, with pregnant women and women of child-bearing age asked to be especially careful and to take the necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

In a statement released today through the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), the ministry warned that pregnant women could be infected with the Zika virus at any stage of pregnancy. The Zika virus has been linked with microcephaly, a birth defect in babies in which the head is smaller than normal.

“Women who are pregnant and experiencing any of the symptoms of Zika – fever, rash, conjunctivitis [red eye], headache and temporary arthritis, mainly in the small joints of the hands and feet – are advised to contact their doctor as soon as possible for testing,” the release stated.

The ministry said there had been no new confirmed cases of the virus in the last 12 weeks. However, it warned this could change as the rain begins to fall.

“Although the number of suspected cases has declined in recent weeks, it is likely that an increase may occur as the rainy season progresses,” the Ministry of Health is quoted in the BGIS release as saying.

It said the mosquito prevention programme would continue, including fogging of high-risk areas and regular inspection of premises by the staff of the Environmental Health Department.

It also advised householders to continue to play their part, including securely covering domestic water storage containers such as buckets and drums; properly discarding old tyres; and ensuring that underground tanks and soak-aways are well sealed.

At the same time, it warned that householders and property owners found breeding mosquitoes on their premises risked being prosecuted under the Health Services Control of Mosquitoes Regulations 1970, Cap. 44.  

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