The Fears & Realities of Zika Virus in the Philippines

Fears about the Zika Virus and The Philippines

This is the Aedes Aegypti
Aedes is a genus of mosquitoes originally found in tropical and subtropical zones, but now found on all continents except Antarctica. Some species have been spread by human activity. Aedes albopictus, a most invasive species, was recently spread to the New World, including the United States, by the used-tire trade. First described and named by German entomologist Johann Wilhelm Meigen in 1818, the generic name comes from the Ancient Greek ἀηδής, aēdēs, meaning “unpleasant” or “odious”. The type species for Aedes is Aedes cinereus. Some species of this genus transmit serious diseases, including dengue fever, yellow fever, the Zika virus and chikungunya. In Polynesia, the species Aedes polynesiensis is responsible for the transmission of human lymphatic filariasis. Source: 1 in References

The Zika virus often produces either no symptoms or mild ones like fever in adults, The latest global outbreak started in Brazil and has been linked to a birth defect that causes a newborn’s heads to be smaller and brain development issues. Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas.

Pest control companies in many places are getting a surge in business because of concerns that mosquitoes bearing the Zika virus will arrive from other Countries.
It’s not just residents that need pest control agencies cover and request help, Schools, day care, commercial customers and restaurants and a variety of commercial premises, particularly if there are near-by parks, still water and green areas. Mosquitoes love to be near still water, man-made containers are ideal as they can lay their egg lava there. Also, plants and trees offer shaded areas for them to rest in the day. Mosquitoes much prefer dawn and dusk, this is the time when they mostly bite as well.

The Zika outbreak is somewhat like past outbreaks of disease in several ways. It has the side effect of creating business for some companies, while hurting or damaging others. During the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa in 2014, some companies had a big increase in sales, for example ones that sold protective clothing like hazmat (Hazardous Material) suits had increased sales as the demand from customers increased as it would with pest control prevention techniques.

On the other hand some companies that arrange holidays and trips to in and around an outbreak areas may have reduced sales, as will hotels and resorts, travelers being worried about catching disease will avoid the areas. Its not always the case, Brazil reports the zika virus as having little impact on their tourism. It will be the type and nature of a disease that makes a difference, besides many travelers will simply adjust their plans not cancel them.

“According to Margaret Chan, the director of the WHO, ‘Of course, we also have learnt from the latest evidence it’s not just infected men who can pass the disease to their sex partners. There was a case of a lady passing the disease to a man, so it can go both directions.'” Zika can be transmitted from men and women to their sexual partners. Since October 2016, the CDC has advised men who have traveled to an area with Zika should use condoms or not have sex for at least six months after their return, even if they never develop symptoms, because the virus is transmissible in semen. (See Ref)

There are several precautions people can take to protect themselves to a degree. For example, simply removing any place where mosquitoes can breed, removing any type of container, or filling them in, removing old near-by rubbish, very simple and yet effective. If you are prone to being bitten wearing white will put them off you, also using a good anti-mosquito cream or spray on skin which is exposed. Purchase an electric bug-zapper. While these measures won’t prevent you from ever being bitten they will reduce the chances of it. A good pest control company such as Intellipest Control Inc can survey your premises, make recommendations and organise a call-out to destroy any pests.

Anastasia Moloney writes BOGOTA, Jan 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus Zika is affecting large parts of Latin America and the Caribbean and spreading quickly through the region. So far 21 countries and territories in the region have reported cases of Zika, more than double the number only one month ago, according to Jan. 21 figures cited by an expert from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The disease is expected to spread across all of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Marcos Espinal, head of PAHO/WHO’s communicable diseases department, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview. The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 and was unknown in the Americas until 2014.
The disease is usually relatively mild but PAHO says it may be linked to cases of brain damage in newborn babies in Brazil. “There is strong and growing evidence that Zika has a role in this. However, concluding cause and effect is more difficult to prove,” PAHO’s Espinal said.

More facts about Zika especially in relation to the Brazil outbreak:

The Zika virus is spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. There is no vaccine for Zika.

The Zika virus is usually relatively mild, with symptoms such as skin rash, fever, muscle and joint pain, lasting up to seven days. It is uncommon for people infected with Zika to need hospital treatment.

In the Americas, there is no evidence that the Zika virus can cause death, PAHO says, but sporadic cases have been reported of more serious complications in people with preexisting diseases or conditions, causing death.

Researchers in Brazil and PAHO say there is growing evidence that links Zika to microcephaly, a neurological disorder in which babies are born with smaller than normal heads and brains.

In northeast Brazil, there has been a marked increase in cases of newborn babies with microcephaly. Brazil’s health ministry has said the number of suspected cases of microcephaly in newborns increased by about 360 in the 10 days to Jan. 16 to 3,893.

Research is under way into the effects of the Zika virus on pregnant women and newborn babies; information about the possible transmission of Zika from infected mothers to babies during pregnancy or childbirth is “very limited”, PAHO says.

Brazil has the highest rate of infection, followed by Colombia. Zika outbreaks have also been reported in Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela, among other countries.

Colombia’s health ministry says Zika has already infected 13,500 people across the country and there could be as many as 700,000 cases this year.

Colombia’s health ministry has advised women to delay becoming pregnant for six to eight months to avoid possible risks related to the Zika virus.

Jamaica has not reported any confirmed cases of Zika, but the health ministry has recommended women delay becoming pregnant for the next six to 12 months. El Salvador has advised women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention warned pregnant women to avoid travel to 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean affected by the virus.

One in four people infected with Zika develop symptoms and many cases of Zika go undetected, making it difficult to estimate the true scale of the outbreak in the Americas. PAHO says there are no reliable estimates of the number of cases in the region. Based on reports from affected countries, PAHO estimates there are at least 60,000 suspected cases of Zika, though the real figure is thought to be far higher.

(Sources: World Health Organisation (WHO), Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC), Colombian Ministry of Health). (Reporting By Anastasia Moloney, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

Zika in the Philippines CNN

The Department of Health (DOH) confirms six more Zika cases in the country–bringing the country’s total Zika cases to nine. The World Health Organization (WHO) assures its full support in fighting the spread of the infection. Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Department of Health (DOH) said six more cases of Zika were reported this month. This brings the total number of Zika cases in the country to nine–with the virus spreading across three provinces. Seven patients are from Iloilo City, one from Cebu City, and one from Laguna province. The ages of the patients range from 9 to 49 years old.

Health Spokesperson Eric Tayag said all these patients are expected to recover soon. Early this month, the DOH reported the first locally transmitted Zika infection for the year– a 45 year old woman from Iloilo. Two more cases were later reported, both from the same household as the index case. Tayag said the additional four cases in Iloilo live 10 kilometers away from the previously reported cases.

The DOH expects more infections to be recorded in the coming days. Also read: DOH investigating origin of Zika virus in the Philippines. Tayag explained that the aedes aegypti mosquito – the carrier of Zika virus – is found throughout the country. Tayag however clarified, there is no active transmission of the Zika virus in the country–an “active transmission” means infection is widespread and the mode of transmission is unclear. All reported cases of Zika so far were infected through mosquito bites. The virus can also be transmitted sexually.

“Halimbawa may kaso dito, ‘di ba ‘yung unang tatlo, the same household yun. Hindi masabing active transmission. Parehong household eh. Ngayon, more than 10 kilometers, merong kaso, pero alam naming kagat din ng lamok yun. Eh isa isa. So hindi rin masabing active, kasi isa lang eh,” Tayag explained.

[Translation: For example, the case of the first three patients came from the same household. We can’t say it’s active transmission as it’s the same household. Now, there are cases more than 10 kilometers away but we know it’s from mosquito bites. We can’t say it’s active because these are isolated cases.]

Tayag said a national Zika action plan is in the works where the DOH is intensifying the capability of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for testing. The DOH released ₱48M to buy 8,000 Zika testing kits. Only those who show Zika symptoms — rashes, red eyes, joint pains and fever– will be tested for the virus.

Tayag said pregnant women should consult with their doctors to ensure a safe pregnancy. The Zika virus is linked with birth defects which includes microcephaly–which shrinks the unborn’s head and brain, leading to developmental disorders.

“Ang mga buntis na gusto magpa-test– sa prenatal visit ninyo magtanong kayo sa doctor kung kailangan ba ninyong magpa-test. Otherwise, use safe insect repellents at sa gayon mabawasan ang paglagay sa panganib,” advised Tayag.

[Translation: Pregnant women who want to get tested should ask their doctors during their prenatal visit if they really need to get tested. Otherwise, use safe insect repellents in order to reduce the risk of getting infected.]

Watch: Preventing Zika virus spread
WHO: Zika in PH not a surprise

The World Health Organization (WHO) meanwhile assured the DOH of its full support in preventing the spread of the Zika virus.

WHO Country Representative Dr. Gundo Weiler said there are now 19 out of 37 countries in the Western Pacific Region found with Zika virus. Weiler said it was only a matter of time before cases were found in the Philippines.

“The fact that we see Zika in the Philippines and we detect more is not a surprise. We know there is a competent vector in the country, we know there is a lot of travel. We were assuming there is a likelihood Zika will appear in the country and spread to a certain extent,” said Weiler.

Weiler commended the proactive testing of the DOH against Zika. He said the increase in the number of cases reflects the efforts of the DOH to crackdown on the virus. He said this is a welcome development at a time when countries are on alert against the spread of Zika.

“We will see more Zika being picked up so that, per se, is a development which is welcome because we will understand better in the future the circulation of the Zika in the country is,” Weiler said.




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This article incorporates public domain material from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website

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