The Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health, Modou Njai, has affirmed that there is no Zika concern for The Gambia despite reports of the existence of the virus in two West African countries.
Brazil has been struggling with the virus for several weeks now and following reports of cases in Cape Verde and most recently Guinea Bissau, Njai said The Gambia has never been and wouldn’t be complacent when it comes to the health of its population, disclosing that all the necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that the country is not affected by the disease.
Njai pointed out that recently laboratory and health workers have been trained in surveillance, something, he said, is geared towards strengthening surveillance at all levels.
He further stated that a communication plan and message has already been developed, and called on the general public to ensure a clean environment and avoid potholes to prevent mosquitoes to settle in Breeding grounds, during the rainy season.
He called on the public to support them in the preventative measures just like they did during the Ebola campaign.
He said the Zika virus is a mosquito–transmitted infection related to dengue, yellow fever and west Nile virus, adding that it was discovered in the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947 and is common in Africa and Asia.
He pointed out that the Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected aedes species mosquito and through sex with an infected person as well as from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
He said the common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), noting that the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
He further stated that the Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe brain defects.
by Momodou Faal