The Department of Health (DOH) is urging travelers to take extra precautions while staying in Zika-affected countries with on-going, local transmission. The Bureau of Quarantine will continue to screen arriving passengers for signs of fever. These passengers 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.

Image/Philippines DOH
Image/Philippines DOH

“It 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. 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.” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean B. Rosell-Ubial explained.

At the moment, DOH advises pregnant women to avoid travel in Singapore and other neighboring countries where cases of Zika are reportedly on the rise.

The Health Chief added that 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). Because 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.

DOH addresses communities to intensify their campaign in eliminating mosquito breeding places through the ‘4S campaign’. The 4S means Search and destroy mosquito breeding places, use Self-protection measures, Seek early consultation for fever lasting more than 2 days, and Say no to indiscriminate fogging.

“The first step to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is within our homes. Let us instill cleanliness in our surroundings and make it a practice in our communities. Together let us attain all for health towards health for all and eliminate eliminate breeding sites of mosquitoes and protect our family and community from any illnesses that they may bring. Be A Good Citizen; when you avoid bites, you avoid spreading the Zika virus to your family and the community” Secretary Ubial concluded.

Hotlines are established 24/7 where calls may be made by our citizens and foreign nationals residing in the Philippines who may need assistance. They may be reached thru 711-1001 or 711-1002.