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Govt: Take caution to avoid Zika virus

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

Government has urged the public to remain vigilant in preventing the spread of Zika in Bermuda — although no confirmed cases have been reported on the island.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment stressed the need to be cautious as the summer season approaches.

“As the warmer weather approaches and worldwide travel increases, it is important to maintain prevention efforts,” she said. “We wish to update the public on how to keep Zika virus out of Bermuda. Good travel health habits, local mosquito control and prevention of mosquito bites, at home and when travelling, are essential to assure that the Zika virus never arrives on our shores.”

The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquito or sexual contact, made headlines earlier this year as it spread throughout South and Central America.

While the majority who contract the virus experience no symptoms, some experience fever, body rash, joint pain or red eyes. More worrying is a suspected link between the virus and birth defects.

“A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her foetus during pregnancy,” the spokeswoman said. “Zika infection during pregnancy can harm the foetus and can cause certain birth defects in babies.”

As a result, pregnant woman and women attempting to become pregnant are recommended to postpone travel to areas where Zika is present, and should contact a doctor if their sexual partner has recently travelled to such a region.

Anyone who does travel to a region with Zika is warned to take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and to monitor their health for symptoms.

The spokeswoman added that the public should take steps to prevent mosquito breeding on the island.

“Mosquitoes can breed in the smallest amount of water, so to minimise the risk of mosquito breeding, ensure that any object that can collect water is emptied. Empty all stagnant or standing water around your property, including buckets and barrels, flower pot bases, tyres, water fountains, old cans, playground equipment, child pools and pet food or bowls.”