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DOH urged to prepare for Zika virus

Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) was urged yesterday to put in place the necessary measures to prevent the entry into the country of the Zika virus, which is considered the most serious threat to public health since Ebola nearly decimated eastern Africa in 2014.

“We should not be caught flat-footed by this deadly virus. It is better to err on the side of prudence,” Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said.

Romualdez said the DOH should draw up a cohesive response to the virus and give the public clear guidelines on how to avoid the disease.

He said the new threat to public health has been confirmed in 24 countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere.

He added the World Health Organization has advised people to clean up their premises and eliminate standing water where Zika virus-bearing mosquitoes breed.

Romualdez pointed out that Zika has affected as many as 1.3 million people in Brazil.

He said one of the challenges of identifying the Zika virus is that the symptoms are mild.

“The symptoms include fever, headache, rash and possible red eyes. But most people don’t ever realize they have the disease. The Zika virus is not transmitted through human contact but by the same Aedes mosquitoes that have spread dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus,” Romualdez said.

“The bigger risk, however, is to unborn children. Zika is suspected to be linked to a huge increase in the incidence of a birth defect, microcephaly, that results in a smaller-than-normal head and an underdeveloped brain,” he added.

He said Brazil has reported more than 4,000 incidents of the defect in the months since Zika was first detected there.

Romualdez suggested that the DOH enlist barangay health workers in disseminating information about the new virus and how to combat it. –With Evelyn Macairan, Danny Dangcalan

ACIRC DANNY DANGCALAN DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH LEYTE REP MARTIN ROMUALDEZ ROMUALDEZ VIRUS WEST NILE WESTERN HEMISPHERE WITH EVELYN MACAIRAN ZIKA
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