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28 countries with Zika, risk to Fiji is high

The risk of the Zika virus coming to Fiji is high, the health Ministry has confirmed.   Dr Mike Kama, the national adviser on communicable diseases told local media the ministry had been keeping watch of the Zika virus at 12 research sites around the country since August 2015 . The only reported cases in […]

Staff Writers

February 4, 2016 4:12 pm

The risk of the Zika virus coming to Fiji is high, the health Ministry has confirmed.  

There are now 28 countries with confirmed cases of Zika. Photo: CDC

Dr Mike Kama, the national adviser on communicable diseases told local media the ministry had been keeping watch of the Zika virus at 12 research sites around the country since August 2015 .

The only reported cases in Fiji so far was from 2014, Dr Kama said.  This led to a risk assessment conducted in 2015.

We measure the risk that we have. We have considered and acknowledged our risk for importing this disease.
It’s quite high because we have the mosquito vectors here in Fiji — the same mosquito vectors for dengue.
Secondly, we are the geographical hub for the Pacific. We have got travellers from countries across the region who are already experiencing outbreaks, moving into Fiji.
So the risk of importing the disease and establishing it in Fiji is quite high.

According to the latest data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  there are 28 countries with Zika, including two in the Pacific; American Samoa and Samoa.

The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. It affects brain development in unborn babies resulting in microcephaly and brain damage. The risk to pregnant women are most significant because of the effects on their unborn children.

The WHO and CDC respectively have advised pregnant women against travel to the 28 countries.

The Ministry of Health is in discussions with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Suva about the response to the virus.

The appropriate surveillance/response mechanisms for Zika virus infection and birth-defect complications will soon be operational at the ministry.

The Ministry urged the public to destroy mosquito breeding  places.

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