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Belize Warns of Five Confirmed Cases of Zika Virus in the Caribbean

If Dengue and Chikungunya were not enough to worry about during the ‘Mosquito /Rainy Season’ in Belize, the Ministry of Health this week releases an advisory to the public that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed, for the first time, five (5) cases of Zika virus in the Caribbean. Countries within the Americas such as Brazil, Colombia, Suriname and the Dominican Republic have all reported cases of this mosquito-borne disease this year.

Zika is a viral disease, transmitted by the same vector for Dengue and Chikungunya, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The symptoms lasts approximately four to seven days, and are similar to Dengue and Chikungunya which may include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. Though complications from Zika are rare and no deaths have been reported, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika.

The Ministry of Health hereby reminds the general public to protect themselves from mosquito bites. An effective way to do this is by destroying mosquitoes’ breeding sites in and around our homes and surrounding areas; keeping water drums tightly covered; draining stagnant water from yards and neighborhoods, and throwing out stagnant water from flower vases, old tires, and other containers that may act as breeding sites.

Members of the public can also protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved clothing or long pants, using insect repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets. These measures are the same described for Dengue, Chikungunya and Malaria.

The Ministry of Health is preparing for the introduction of this disease based on the most recent experience with Chikungunya which spread throughout the Caribbean and the Americas, including Belize within less than one year. Further updates will be provide as they become available.

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