After reports of suspected Zika virus infections in Brazil, the Jamaican government has taken notice and will incorporate the mosquito borne virus into the country’s vector control and education program.

Jamaica Image/CIA

The Jamaica Information Services reports Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson as saying, “We are going to come very shortly with an integrated clean-up programme, (including) drain cleaning,  but the citizens of the country must also take responsibility for their health, even as Government must lead the process.”

“It is the same Aedes Aegypti mosquito that is responsible for that Zika virus, and unless we clean up around our homes, place of worship, and workplaces, the country will be vulnerable to the disease,” Dr. Ferguson pointed out.

Aedes Aegypti is also the mosquito vector for dengue fever and chikungunya, both diseases that are present in Jamaica.

The public education and awareness campaign appeals to the public to be vigilant by destroying mosquito breeding sites.

The infection may present itself as asymptomatic or with a moderate clinical picture; no fatal cases have been detected to date. In symptomatic cases, with moderate disease, the symptoms appear acutely and include fever, non-purulent conjunctivitis, headache, myalgia and arthralgia, asthenia, maculopapular rash, edema in the lower limbs and less frequently, retro-orbital pain, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. Thesymptoms last for 4-7 days and are self-limiting.

Complications (neurological, autoimmune) are rare and have only been identified in the epidemic in French Polynesia.

To date, no death attributed to Zika virus infection has been reported in any of the outbreaks.