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Fiji on alert for Zika with 2 cases being investigated

The health ministry has been on alert and conducting surveillance on the Zika virus. At a press conference yesterday afternoon, the National Advisor for Communicable Diseases Dr Mike Kama said the virus had been monitored by the Ministry of Health for the past six months. Fiji’s Ministry of Health has recorded 4 suspected cases of Zika virus. […]

Peni Shute

February 16, 2016 9:31 am

The health ministry has been on alert and conducting surveillance on the Zika virus.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, the National Advisor for Communicable Diseases Dr Mike Kama said the virus had been monitored by the Ministry of Health for the past six months. Fiji’s Ministry of Health has recorded 4 suspected cases of Zika virus.

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National Advisor for Communicable Diseases Dr Mike Kama (middle), left is National Adviser Environmental Health Mr Dip Chand, right is Director Epidemiology Dr Devina Nand during a press conference today. PHOTO: Calvin Prasad/Newswire

We’ve been on alert for the possibility of Zika virus importation and also establishing it here in Fiji. So we’ve had the surveillance system currently running for Zika Virus, basically on the situation that has been circulating in the region with regards to Zika virus and also in the Americas from 2013, 2014 and into last year and than current.

Recently, two suspected cases of Zika virus have been identified by the Ministry of Health. Dr Kama says the blood samples of a suspected man and woman who contracted the virus while away overseas have been sent to a lab in French Polynesia for testing. He added the results would be received later this week.

So the ministry has been on alert and it has been conducting surveillance on Zika virus, Zika virus as you know from sources it is a mosquito-borne virus disease, it is spread by the mosquito aedes aegypti (mosquito that transmits yellow fever and dengue) which is quite abundant here in Fiji. It is that same mosquito that transmits dengue virus, so that basically puts Fiji at a risk and together with that the population here in Fiji are analogically venerable to Zika virus given that the virus has never spread, has never circulated amongst our population.

Dr. Kama said the ministry of health has a network that looks at emerging diseases and looks at responding comprehensively and using a multi-sectoral approach.  Dr. Kama said the ministry had been developing a preparedness and responsive plan in the past months for the establishment of Zika virus in Fiji.

Epidemiologist for the Ministry of Health, Dr Devina Nand, said the precautionary mentions to be taken are the same for dengue virus.

So protecting yourself from being bitten, reducing the amount of breeding places of mosquitoes that are around your community, ensuring that children, kids and adults have repellents on, that you have mosquito nets on when you’re sleeping especially during the peak hours of biting which is early in the morning. Please protect yourselves and reduce the number of mosquitoes around your environment.

Dr. Nand said the highest mode of the spreading of Zika virus was through mosquito bites.

However, when question if Zika virus could be spread sexually, Dr. Nand said at this stage it is very low, and further global research will be undertaken to confirm this mode of spreading.

Dr. Nand said it was very hard to track down Zika within our borders due to Zika symptoms and only 25% can be detected, and the remaining may carry the virus without knowing.

So border control, at the moment no countries are implementing border control for Zika because you cannot do that with the symptoms and presentations.

National Adviser Environmental Health Mr Dip Chand said at the borders and airports, quarantine on all the air crafts which arrives from Zika prone countries is being undertaken. He added that protocol is in place if a suspected individuals who presents him or she at the airports in which he or she will be taken for isolation and further treatment.

Epidemiologist, Dr Ravi Naidu said the Zika Virus symptoms overlaps with other diseases, such as fever, conjunctivitis (Cika) and joint pains. Doctor Naidu added that Zika virus was a self-limiting sickness.

Dr. Mike Kama said, $100, 000 is allocated to combat Zika and other mosquito related diseases.

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