Minister of Health
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — Residents and citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis are asked to note that the Ministries of Health on both islands continue to monitor reports of new viruses – MERS and Zika.
There is no need for alarm or panic. There are no known cases in the Federation.
Response measures are in place. They are being updated and strengthened in conjunction with the OECS Commission, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
1: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)
MERS-CoV emerged in Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a corona virus which is spread from human to human by coughing and sneezing. The virus is not spread by insects and rodents.
An infected person may have no symptoms, or a mild common cold, diarrhoea and vomiting. Affected persons may develop Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Complications include pneumonia and kidney failure.
According to research, deaths occur in 36% of severely affected persons who have an underlying medical condition such as uncontrolled diabetes or cancer.
There is no vaccine and no medication cure for MERS-CoV at this time. Affected persons are treated with fluids, oxygen, and antibiotics – if there is a secondary bacterial infection. Prevention and control involve simple and well-known measures such as (a) covering the cough and sneeze with tissue or a handkerchief; and (b) regular hand-washing with soap and water. The best protection is maintaining good health through adequate rest; regular exercise; a diet based on ground provisions, fruits and green vegetables; and high levels of general cleanliness.
2: Zika Virus Infection (ZIKAV)
The first human cases of ZIKAV virus occurred in Uganda and Tanzania in 1952. Between 2007 and 2014, outbreaks and sporadic cases were reported in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and several nations in the Pacific. In February 2014, Chile confirmed the first case in the West Hemisphere. The virus has now spread to Brazil.
ZIKAV is an arbovirus transmitted by the bite of Aedes Egypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits Dengue and Chikungunya. The mosquito breeds in pots, pans, cans, bottles, tyres and in any other receptacle that holds water. Affected persons tend to have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, pain leg swelling and reddish eyes for 4 – 7 days. There is no vaccine and no medication cure. No deaths have been reported.
The general public is advised that ZIKAV can be prevented. Residents are urged to search their homes, yards, nearby empty lots and ghauts for mosquito breeding sites and destroy them.
Further public health guidance on both ZIKAV and MERS-CoV infections will be issued in subsequent announcements. Factual information may be found on the websites of CARPHA, PAHO/WHO, and the public health authorities of the United States of America (USA), Canada, and the United Kingdom (UK).