The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency is ramping up its campaign to “eradicate” the mosquito that is the common vector for Zika, Dengue, Yellow Fever and Chikungunya from the region.
CARPHA officials say that even though the incidences of the Zika virus have decreased significantly since its original outbreak in the Caribbean and Latin America two years ago, it is still present in certain communities. This initiative is seen as a preventative measure to eliminate the chance of contracting the virus.
The health agency does not detail what measures it will use to eradicate the mosquito, but a part of the campaign includes providing an “information toolkit” with “videos, posters and answers to common virus questions." The kit is directed to a wide audience.
The World Health Organization reported that the original Zika virus was first detected in 1947 in monkeys in Uganda. It was later found in 1952 in humans in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Symptoms were comparatively mild to what was experienced nearly six decades later in 2013 when the virus had mutated and spread throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Suriname and Guyana. Recent symptoms included severe fever, rashes, “conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache.”
Yet, the virus outbreak in Brazil and Colombia was also associated with incidences of “congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly” and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition that results in muscle weakness from nerve damage, in babies born to mothers who had contracted the virus during their pregnancy.
A study released at the end of September, by the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, comparing a 2010 strain of the Zika virus with a 2013 mutated version found that, in mice, the 2013 strain “caused substantially more death and microcephaly.”
The campaign hopes to eliminate the chance that people contract the virus, or any of the affiliated diseases, but suggests that those who contract the virus, “get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with over the counter medication."