BVI residents warned to be vigilant amid Zika alert

Residents of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are urged to remain vigilant about reducing mosquito breeding sites in light of the recently issued Zika Alert.

The alert was issued earlier this week for the Caribbean region by the Washington-based Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

BVI Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Yolanda Penn, said “residents must heighten their vigilance in controlling and reducing mosquito breeding sites around residential and business premises.

Penn noted that the Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits the viruses that causes Dengue and Chikungunya, according to a BVI government statement.

“Persons should conduct weekly surveys of all premises for any signs of mosquito breeding,” Penn said. “Efforts must be focused on source reduction and clean up to include the elimination of unwanted containers that can hold water, properly covering water storage receptacles, such as tanks and cisterns, and sealing septic tanks and soakaways.”

Penn said that the territory-wide fogging campaign started in December, will resume in the coming days.

She, however, said that fogging alone cannot keep the mosquito population under control, stressing that it is the “day-to-day actions of every member of the community that will prevent a disease outbreak.”

Acute symptoms of Zika can last from four to seven days and includes fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, eyeball pain, weakness, red rash consisting of small bumps, swelling in the lower limbs, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhoea, abdominal pain and conjunctivitis, Penn said.

She said conjunctivitis is mainly an inflammation of the outermost layer of the eye and inner surface of the eyelids with no pus production.

“Persons are asked to contact the Environmental Health Division for further information regarding the Zika virus or other vector related matters,” Penn urged.

“The Environmental Health Division is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the environment with the potential to negatively impact the health of the population are managed efficiently to enable all persons in the BVI to attain and maintain optimal health and well-being,” she added.

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