Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Residents of the Virgin Islands are urged to learn as much as they could about the ZIKA virus and measures that can be taken to reduce its transmission.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ronald Georges said all members of the society including the public and private sectors, NGOs, communities, families and individuals must play a key role and share the responsibility of controlling mosquito breeding to reduce the chances of a Zika outbreak.
Dr. Georges stated that in order to control mosquito breeding, persons must become familiar with how they breed. He said, “The Aedes mosquito which is the vector that transmit ZIKA are domesticated, they live around us and reproduce in any object that contains water. The incubation of the mosquito requires seven to 10 days and once born these mosquitoes can live up to six weeks. The Aedes lay eggs every three to four days. A female can lay as many as 400 eggs over her lifetime. The eggs can resist drought conditions for over a year and then evolve into mosquitoes when in contact with water.”
The Medical Officer added that it is imperative that efforts be focused on source reduction, taking care of our surroundings and being aware of objects that can accumulate water and enable mosquito breeding.
Residents are urged to conduct weekly inspections of all premises for any signs of mosquito breeding, eliminate unwanted containers that can hold water, dispose of garbage on a regular basis and open drains where water could settle. Persons are also encouraged to properly scrub the sides of containers to destroy mosquito eggs, keep the yard clean and clear of weeds and keep containers not being used face down.
Eliminating mosquito breeding places, avoiding bites and improving environmental conditions in and around dwellings are some of the key messages that Ministry of Health and Social Development is sending to reduce the risk of ZIKA transmission.
A ZIKA alert was issued for the Caribbean region by the Pan American Health Organisation and stated that the ZIKA virus is now present in the OECS, Martinique and Puerto Rico, and considering the volume of travel between the BVI and these islands, there is a need for increased surveillance and heightened awareness of this virus and its impact on human health.