Chief Medical Officer Sheds Light on Health Hazards Posed by the Zika Virus

Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 28, 2016 (SKNIS): Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Hazel Laws, has sort to shed some light on the health hazard posed by the Zika virus to citizens and residents in St. Kitts and Nevis, while appearing on Wednesday’s (September 28) edition of “Working for You”.

“The Zika virus is a germ that an individual can pick up after being bitten by an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito,” said Dr. Laws. “It causes a viral illness that is characterized by a low grade fever, a generalized rash affecting different areas of the body, feelings of malaise and the individual can also complain of joint and muscle pains. Another characterized feature is that of conjunctivitis – redness of the eye. These are the main symptoms of the Zika virus.”

The Acting CMO noted that St. Kitts and Nevis and the region on a whole are faced with a “number of health challenges and the Zika virus is one of the emerging infectious diseases that is posing a serious threat to the Federation and to the islands in the region”.

She explained that the virus can be asymptomatic in the sense that persons can contract the virus but are unaware that they have it because they will not exhibit any of the symptoms. She noted that literature suggests that 70 to 80 percent of infected persons can fall into this category.

Dr. Laws also made mention of pregnant expecting mothers and noted that they are at greater risk.

“Pregnant females are particularly vulnerable to the Zika virus infection. And so if a pregnant woman becomes infected with the Zika virus, she is at risk for a number of outcomes,” she said. “She is at risk of having a miscarriage, a still birth or if the pregnancy continues she can give birth to a newborn with an abnormally small head.”

Dr. Laws urged persons in the general public to check their surroundings for mosquito breeding sites and to heed the advice of the health authorities about eliminating the said sites and to avoid being bitten.

A press release was issued by the Ministry of Health on Friday, September 16, 2016, with the confirmation from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) of three Zika cases in the Federation. The Ministry of Health has been updating the public on the precautions to take going forward.

Since that time, there have been over 200 suspected reported cases in the Federation, according to statistics given by the Acting Chief Medical Officer.

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