Take extra caution, Filipinos in Zika-infected countries told
With close to 10 Million Filipinos living and working abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs urged citizens particularly those traveling abroad to take extra precautions while staying in Zika affected countries.
The Philippines remains a Zika virus-free country, according to the Department of Health.
The DFA travel advisory was issued following the rising deaths due to Zika infection in Singapore, reaching 189 over the weekend. Singapore is host to 180,000 Filipinos, mostly domestic helpers.
In a statement, the DFA said the Bureau of Quarantine continues to screen arriving passengers in all international airports in the country for signs of fever.
The passengers, both Filipinos and foreigners are reminded to fill-out a health declaration checklist upon arrival and to report or visit any government health facility if they become ill with unexplained fever within 7 days from arrival, said the DFA.
Quoting DOH secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial, the Zika virus is usually acquired through bites from infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the same type of mosquito that spreads Dengue and Chikungunya.
“Signs and symptoms of Zika usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, skin rash, joint pains, and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting 2-7 days, said Rosell-Ubial, as contained in the DFA statement.
She said not everyone who gets infected present with symptoms “that is why it is important to avoid mosquito bites. Hence, it is very important to clean the surroundings in order to prevent the multiplication of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes that serve as vector of the said virus.”
The DOH has earlier advised pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries with reported Zika cases and transmission.
“It is very risky for pregnant women to get infected with the Zika virus as this has been linked to birth of babies with severe brain and other neurological defects including microcephaly (rare condition where a baby has a small head),” said the DOH chief.
She added that the Zika virus is also sexually-transmitted, pregnant women, their partners and others who plan for pregnancy, should observe safe sex precautions (condoms) to avoid infection.
In the Philippines, the DOH addresses communities to intensify their campaign in eliminating mosquitoes by eliminating their breeding places, use of self-protecting measures and consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days. The public is also advised to oppose indiscriminate fogging.
The public has also been advised to use physical barriers to mosquitoes such as use of screens, closed doors and windows and use of insect repellent. At the same time, people, particularly in the provinces are advised to sleep under a bed net,
The health department also advised people to wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and trousers; and get rid of stagnant water from places where mosquitoes breed, such as in old containers, flower pots, and used tires.
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