Measures help curb virus

2016-03-16 06:00

SOUTH AFRICA has been carefully monitoring the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil and other affected countries, according to the Department of Health.

Through the Multisectoral National Outbreak Response Team, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the country offices of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, South Africa has developed an action plan to prevent the importation and spread of the virus into the country.

Prevention measures include:

  • outbreak response teams have been activated;
  • prevention and control guidelines have been developed;
  • an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is on standby and will be active in the event of an outbreak in the country; and

) the disinfection of aircrafts, airports and cargo containers is ongoing.

The Zika virus is transmitted through a mosquito vector, Aedes, that also transmits dengue, yellow fever and the chikungunya virus.

On 1 February, the WHO declared the recent Zika virus outbreak in Brazil and other South American countries a public health emergency of international concern.

In South Africa, the local mosquito species, although present, is unlikely to act as vectors to transmit the Zika virus, due to them being different and having a different behavioural pattern compared to the vectors in the outbreak in South America.

Also, the virus has not been identified further south than Uganda in Africa.

Pregnant women should not travel to any area where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

If travel is essential, they should consult with their doctor first and strictly follow precautionary measures.

Prevent mosquito bites by:

  • wearing long-sleeved clothing;
  • applying an insect repellent containing diethyltoluamide (DEET);
  • sleeping under mosquito-proof bed nets, treated with an insecticide;
  • spraying the inside of their house or rooms with an insecticide after closing doors and windows;
  • staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms; and
  • removing mosquito breeding sites.

All travellers to Brazil should get a yellow fever vaccination at least ten days before departure.

Travel-related queries can be sent to and ­, or dial 012-395-9636 or 012-395-9637. Also visit,, or

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