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Thu Aug 25 15:20:25 SAST 2016

South Africa develops action plan to combat spread of Zika virus

TMG Digital | 17 February, 2016 15:22
An aedes aegypti mosquito is seen inside Oxitec laboratory in Campinas, Brazil, February 2, 2016.
Image by: PAULO WHITAKER / REUTERS

South Africa has developed an action plan to prevent the importation and spread of Zika virus into the country‚ the Department of Health says.

The department‚ which has been carefully monitoring the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and other affected countries‚ said on Wednesday that thepaln had been developed through the Multi-sectoral National Outbreak Response Team‚ National Institute for Communicable Diseases and country offices of the World Health Organisation and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevention measures implemented included the activation of outbreak response teams and the development of prevention and control guidelines. An Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was also on standby and would be active in the event of an outbreak in the country.

Risk communication had also been initiated to raise public awareness on signs and symptoms of the Zika virus disease‚ preventive measures and where to seek health care if symptoms developed. Information was available on the Department of Health Website‚ ministry of health spokesperson Joe Maila said.

He added that disinfection of aircrafts‚ airports as well as cargo containers was ongoing.

Protection from mosquito bites and elimination of mosquito breeding sites was also emphasised‚ Maila added.

“Zika virus is transmitted to humans through a mosquito vector‚ Aedes‚ that also transmits dengue‚ yellow fever and chikungunya viruses. Symptoms of Zika virus are usually mild and self-limiting‚ however it has been associated with microcephaly and other neurologic disorders. There is no evidence of human-to-human transmission other than the two cases of sexual transmission recently reported‚” the department said.

“In South Africa the local mosquito species although present‚ is unlikely to act as vectors to transmit Zika virus due to them being different and having a different behavioural pattern compared to the vectors in the current outbreak in South America. In addition‚ Zika virus has not been identified further south than Uganda in Africa.

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