Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Pregnant but prepared for ZIKV

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2016 | 1:00 AMChristopher Serju
Expectant mom Terry Forrester (right) assures Kingston Mayor Dr Angella Brown Burke, that she is taking seriously the message on the back of a T-shirt worn by one of the workers who will be involved in the Rockfort phase of the national Clear up, Clean up, Cover up campaign aimed at ensuring that mosquitoes, especially the Aedes aegypti will not find many places to lay their eggs.

The warning from the health ministry for Jamaican women to put off having babies for the next six to 12 months because of the potential impact of the Zika virus (ZIKV) on newborns came too late for Terry Forrester, who was already into her final trimester.

Forrester is about two weeks away from giving birth and is well aware of the health threats from the virus, but is not overly concerned even as some other expectant mothers have claimed they are scared to death.

"My first concern was for the health of my unborn child. After all, it's my first child, and it's not a matter of being afraid but I'm a bit concerned. However, I am aware that there are precautions that can be taken, or should be taken, so I started to be more cautious in the things that I do," Forrester told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

Her role as disaster preparedness coordinator with the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation has prepared Forrester to deal with high-risk situations such as natural disasters, and despite this being a very serious threat of a different kind, she is taking a similar approach to dealing with it.

Prepared

"Well, being in emergency management, you always have to be in a state of preparedness or looking for what is to come, and in the same way, we know that it is coming, so we have to do what we need to do.

"It's pretty much the same as trying to prepare for a hurricane, trying to prepare for an earthquake, things that you would normally be doing in terms of preparedness," Forrester nonchalantly declared during a recent press conference on the Zika virus at the Spanish Court Hotel, New Kingston.

Forrester, who was on the job when she spoke with our news team, did not seem fazed by the pronouncements about the health risks associated with ZIKV, the presence of which has been confirmed in 16 countries in the Americas.

Health officials are convinced that it is just a matter of time before the virus hits Jamaica, and so the expectant mother is not leaving anything to chance.

Since learning about the ZIKV threat, the first-time mom-to-be has gone on high alert in terms of being cautious.

The first thing on her list was to avoid travelling to parishes where there is a high infestation of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the virus. These include Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, Clarendon, and Westmoreland, but if she has to go, Forrester is not likely to be caught out.

"I constantly have mosquito repellent, always in my bag, always in my car, so I'm always spraying. I try not to leave my windows open anymore. Time is hot but I try not to leave my windows open anymore, things like that, and using a mosquito net."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com