The Ministry of Public Health is expanding its efforts to address the Zika Virus. Minister of Public Health Dr. George Norton outlined an Action Plan with several components to Cabinet on Tuesday, October 4.
At a post Cabinet media briefing today, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the Plan includes; early detection, adequate post diagnosis management of mothers and children, reduction of the incidents of infection in pregnant women and surveillance and reports of suspected cases. Training and strengthening of health services to combat the spread of the Zika Virus generally is also being undertaken.
Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon.
According to Harmon, efforts are underway to ensure that within the next three weeks, laboratories have the capacity to test for the Zika Virus. This is being done with assistance from the Pan American Health Organisation(PAHO) and the World Health Organisation(WHO). Capacity to test for Chikungunya and Dengue will also be effected, Harmon said.
Cabinet has noted the occurrence of several cases of Zika and urged that Public Health Minister Dr. George Norton commit to “bolster efforts” to sensitize the public, especially expectant mothers, on how to deal with the Zika Virus infections, Minister Harmon stated.
Zika, a virus transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, was first confirmed in Guyana on January 12 when the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) established that a sample sent for testing from a 27-year-old woman, whose addresses were listed as both Rose Hall, Corentyne and Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara had tested positive. Since that time there has been a total 37confirmed in patients from Regions Three, Four, Six and Ten.
Signs of the illness include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, rash and sometimes swelling of the limbs. Some persons may also experience vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Babies born to mother infected by the virus have an increased chance of being born with microcephaly (small head and brain), lower than average intelligence and shorter life spans.