Mosquito prevention – key to tackling Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika viruses

Mosquito prevention – key to tackling Chikungunya, Dengue and Zika viruses


Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  May 24, 2015.  As of 15 May 2015, the Ministry of Health, Brazil confirmed Zika virus to be circulating in the country.  Positive test results were reported from 8 samples from Bahia and 8 from Rio Grande do Norte. The Brazilian government has taken the necessary steps to enhance its surveillance systems and public health measures are underway. 

Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The main vector is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito which transmits chikungunya and dengue.  Symptoms seen in infected persons are also similar to those in persons with dengue and chikungunya. They include: fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs. Symptoms may last 4-7 days, complications are rare, and to date there have been no deaths attributed to Zika virus.

To date, the Caribbean region has not reported any cases of the mosquito borne Zika virus. However, there is no specific treatment or vaccine to protect against Zika virus. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) advises persons in the Caribbean to be on the alert, and to take individual and collective action to rid their surroundings of any places where mosquitoes could breed.  

Dr. C. James Hospedales CARPHA Executive Director said “Since the same mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is responsible for transmitting dengue, chikungunya and zika viruses the control activities are the same. Members of the public should inspect their homes and yards, and eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites indoors and outdoors by keeping water drums and barrels tightly covered, and throwing out stagnant water from flower vases, old tyres, and other containers that might act as breeding sites.” He also stated that “Screening your windows will prevent most mosquitoes from entering the house. You should also wear long sleeve clothing and use repellent especially during the daytime, when the mosquito is most active.”

CARPHA is also recommending that Member States be vigilant and reinforce surveillance measures, clinical management, and communication strategies targeted at reducing the presence of the mosquito vector of this new disease.

Notes to the Editor

The virus was first isolated in 1947 from a sentinel rhesus monkey stationed on a tree platform in the Zika forest, Uganda.  In 2007, Zika virus caused an outbreak on the island of Yap in the Pacific. This was the first documented transmission outside of its traditional endemic areas in Africa and Asia, and Zika virus is considered an emerging infectious disease with the potential to spread to new areas where the Aedes mosquito vector is present.

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