Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton warned about the Zika mosquito-borne virus that has the Caribbean on alert.
Countries in the region began preparing for the likelihood of an outbreak of the Zika virus that affected many in Brazil, and Minister Skelton advised that the Territory should be on Zika alert as well.
While speaking at the campaign of Sixth District Representative, Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines, Hon. Skelton recalled the recent attack of Chikungunya in the Territory and stated that the BVI needs to prepare for Zika.
The Health Minister declared: “The cleanliness of our environment needs our immediate attention, and why I am saying it is because we had Chikungunya and a lot of people from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke were affected. Now there is a new strain of mosquito-borne virus that is coming our way — it is called Zika.”
“It is coming, if we don’t clean our places if we don’t get rid of our old cars, and our old bathing pans, and get water from around us so that they can’t breed; that is the only way we can continue to protect ourselves. You just can’t clean, your neighbour has to clean also. All abandoned vehicles need to be handed over, so we can get them out of the way,” Hon. Skelton advised.
He reiterated that other countries have commenced preparation in the likelihood that Zika arrives and he stated that the BVI should commence as well: “We need a plan of action to deal with this situation before it gets out of hands. It’s not here yet! Jamaica is making plans. Trinidad is making plans, but it is in the Caribbean,” Hon. Skelton added.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito – the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya and dengue. Zika is similar to dengue fever, and also has symptoms such as fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash, and swelling of the lower limbs. It was reported that symptoms may appear after three to 12 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. The symptoms reportedly last for four to seven days; and no deaths have been reported due to the Zika virus.