Aedes Egypti mosquito

Practice Safe Sex After Contracting Zika, Say PAHO Officials

Community leaders were advised this week to encourage others to use protection if they have been exposed to the Zika Virus and/or contracted the disease.

During a workshop on Tuesday evening at the Credit Union Hall, Sally Edwards, a health advisor from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) said it has been confirmed that the Zika virus can be transmitted sexually.

While there have not been many confirmed cases, Edwards advised that people who have recently returned to the UK or US since the festival season should ensure they use condoms during sexual activity.

Montserrat had its first confirmed case of Zika in October 2016. Since then, there have been other cases. Edwards, noted that only about 20% of the people who contract the disease show any symptoms. This means that another 80% can have it and not know.

Those who contracted the disease should use protection for at least six months after the illness. She added that the virus has been found in sperm up to six months after the initial tests. Others who think they have been exposed but show no signs should use protection for at least four months after the exposure.

Edwards was part of a three-person team from the health organisation on a two-day visit to Montserrat. The meeting with community leaders is part of a new initiative to turn every resident into a soldier in the fight against the Aedes Egypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus as well as Dengue and Chikungunya.

PAHO director Dr Godfrey Xuereb said the Caribbean has not done well in the last 30 years with mosquito control. This problem is now compounded with the increase of travel, shipping and other man made issues which have created good breeding ground for the insects.

Edwards added that the mosquito which has a black and white striped body has a preference for dawn and dusk. The female is the culprit and lays up to 80 eggs every three days. The eggs can also live for years before they touch water and become wrigglers. The mosquito needs a blood meal to lay the eggs and can go from person to person until it is filled. Attendees were advised that the use of air conditioned units is one of the ways that the mosquitoes are able to bite beyond dawn and dusk as homes and offices are cool which they prefer.

Residents are encouraged to use gauze on their windows and doors, wear long sleeved clothing and also ensure that their surroundings are clear of standing water.

Read more about the precautions which can be taken here…