Barbadian health authorities reported on November 8 that transmission rates of mosquito-borne diseases had declined significantly in 2017. The Health Ministry reported a total of 39 suspected and three confirmed cases of the Zika virus since the beginning of the year. No cases of chikungunya have been reported in 2017.
Health officials credit more effective public health education campaigns for this decline. Despite the positive developments, officials continue to urge individuals to take appropriate measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites and minimize the spread of the diseases.
Although the Zika virus is usually relatively benign, links between it and severe birth defects as well as the potentially fatal neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) have been established. The virus is asymptomatic in approximately 80 percent of cases; when symptoms do occur, they generally appear two to seven days after infection, and include fever, headache (behind the eyes), conjunctivitis, rashes, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. The disease can also be transmitted via sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of chikungunya include fever, headache, joint and muscle ache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, and rashes. The virus is rarely fatal but potentially debilitating joint pain can last for weeks, even months, after the initial recovery.
Individuals present in Barbados - in particular pregnant women and their partners - are advised to take measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites e.g. by wearing covering clothing, using insect repellent, and sleeping in a screened-in or air conditioned room and/or under mosquito netting). It is also advisable to take measures to destroy possible breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, carrier of both diseases, including masses of garbage and small pockets of stagnant water, e.g. water that has collected in cans, bottles, tires, vases, flower pots, clogged gutters, air conditioners, water dishes for pets, etc.
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