‘Set up information counters at airports’

Vector surveillance programme launched to prevent virus outbreak


Our Correspondent February 18, 2016
PHOTO: APP/ FILE

LAHORE: Health experts have asked travellers, particularly pregnant women, to adopt precautionary measures while travelling to Mexico and Brazil as well as other areas hit by Zika virus.

“In order to prevent an outbreak in Pakistan, the government must establish information counters at all airports and other exit points in the country,” King Edward Medical University Department of Internal Medicine Chairman Irshad Hussain told The Express Tribune.

He urged the government to start a campaign to educate people about Zika virus. “There is no vaccine or medicine available to control the deadly virus,” he said.

The virus could be transmitted from a pregnant woman to the foetus. Serious birth defects including microcephaly (abnormally short heads) have been reported in babies of some women infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

Hussain said the symptoms of Zika virus were similar to dengue virus and that it was also transmitted through mosquitoes.

“The government must ensure fumigation of ponds, drains and water tanks,” Hussain said. The most common symptoms of a Zika infection are fever, rashes, joint pains or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other symptoms include muscle pain and headaches.

The government issued a press release on Thursday saying that a vector surveillance programme had been launched to prevent a Zika outbreak. Health Services Director General Mukhtar Syed said that a World Health Organisation (WHO) team had visited the directorate general and inquired about measures taken to deal with the virus. He said the delegation had praised the provincial government’s surveillance programme.

According to the WHO, the virus first reported in Brazil had spread to other parts of South and Central America. As many as 3,500 Zika cases have been reported in Brazil. Some of the infected children have died from severe microcephaly, the WHO said in a report.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2016.

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