New mosquito-borne virus ZIKV threatens Jamaica, authorities urge precaution
The Health Ministry is urging Jamaicans to take all the necessary steps to rid their surroundings of mosquito breeding sites as it prepares to ward off the threat of another mosquito-borne virus.
In a release yesterday, the health ministry said the outbreak in Brazil of the Zika virus poses a potential threat to Jamaica.
Brazil confirmed its first case of the Zika virus or ZIKV earlier this month.
Permanent Secretary in the health ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey, says the ministry is taking the threat very seriously as the virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which also carries the dengue and Chikungunya viruses.
He says there is no specific vaccine or treatment for the virus.
The Zika virus is from the same family as the dengue and chikungunya viruses and share similar symptoms which include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.
Symptoms usually appear three to 12 days after an infected mosquito bites a person and can last for four to seven days.
The Health Ministry says to date no deaths due to the Zika virus have been recorded worldwide although outbreaks have taken place in 2007, 2013 and this year.
The threat of the new mosquito virus comes less than a year after the Chikungunya virus was declared an epidemic in the Caribbean and governments including Jamaica's were criticized for being ill-prepared.