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Public warned over mosquito-borne virus

Following news that the Zika virus has spread to the Caribbean, the Bermuda Department of Health is cautioning the public to take care in avoiding being bitten by mosquitoes.

Five cases of Zika have been reported in the region so far, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), which did not specify where the incidents occurred. This is the first time it has been detected in CARICOM.

Symptoms, which are similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses such as Chickungunya and Dengue, include fever, rash, muscle or joint aches, eye redness and irritation, headache and feeling unwell.

Neurologic and immune system complications can also occur.

Pregnant women are most at risk, as there may be a link between Zika and an increased likelihood of microcephaly, in which the infant's head is smaller than normal because of slowed or incomplete brain development.

The Department of Health issued the following advice for the safety of the Bermudian public:

1. Empty any containers of standing water around the home or that may have collected water during last week's inclement weather. Buckets, plant pots, tyres, plastic sheeting and other items should be checked and emptied. Otherwise, the water they are holding may act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. If you need assistance in doing so or need your property assessed, call Vector Control at 278-5397. Likewise if you are getting bitten by mosquitoes call Vector Control.

2. Practise mosquito precautions to protect you and your family from Zika and Chikungunya if travelling to the Caribbean, Central or South America.

3. If you travel to an affected country, reduce your mosquito exposure by using air conditioning or window/door screens, sleeping under a mosquito net, using insect repellent on exposed skin, and wearing long sleeves/pants if the weather permits. If you are bitten by mosquitoes, monitor your health for onset of symptoms for three to seven days. If symptoms manifest, seek medical attention immediately.

For more information on the Zika virus and for other public and travel health-related updates, visit the “Health Alerts and Disasters” page at health.gov.bm.

The Zika virus has spread to the Caribbean. Bermudians are urged to take care in ensuring it doesn't spread here (Photograph by USDA/AP)

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Published December 21, 2015 at 4:35 pm (Updated December 22, 2015 at 1:01 am)

Public warned over mosquito-borne virus

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