Zika Virus Preparedness Gets $200M Injection

Photo: FILE Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley

Story Highlights

  • A total of $200 million has been budgeted by the Government to undertake Zika Virus (ZIKV) preparedness activities across the island.
  • “This mosquito lives with us and this is a new disease and so the population which has never gotten it before, does not have any sort of immunity. It means that everyone is at risk of getting the Zika virus, once it is here in Jamaica,” the Minister added.
  • Symptoms of ZikV include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.

A total of $200 million has been budgeted by the Government to undertake Zika Virus (ZIKV) preparedness activities across the island.

This was disclosed by Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley, at the Jamaica House media briefing, held at the Office of the Prime Minister, in Kingston, on January 20.

The money will be used for public education campaigns; increased vector control activities; purchasing of pharmaceuticals, equipment and chemicals; and strengthening of the Virology Laboratory at the University of the West Indies.

Mr. Dalley informed that while there has been no confirmed case of the virus in Jamaica, persons should be vigilante and take the necessary measures to eradicate mosquito breeding sites around their homes and communities and prepare themselves for the likely introduction of the virus.

“We have investigated so far, notifications brought to the Ministry of Health of 12 (suspected) cases of the (Zika) virus and we have sent these samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) lab in Trinidad and all were negative for the Zika Virus,” he said.

The Minister said the public health lab has received an additional five samples, which will be sent to Trinidad, on Thursday, January 21, for testing by CARPHA.

He said the population is very susceptible, because the Zika Virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the same mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya.

“This mosquito lives with us and this is a new disease and so the population which has never gotten it before, does not have any sort of immunity. It means that everyone is at risk of getting the Zika Virus, once it is here in Jamaica,” the Minister added.

He urged Jamaicans, especially high risk groups, such as pregnant women, to take the necessary precautions to prevent being infected by the disease.

Other high risks groups include: infants, the elderly and persons with non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer, sickle cell or a compromised immune system.

Symptoms of Zika Virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.

Nineteen countries in the Americas have confirmed the outbreak of Zika Virus. These are Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Equador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.

To see more information on the Zika Virus click here 

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