Secondary spread of Zika virus unlikely - Motsoaledi

2016-03-09 14:42
(File, Eraldo Peres, AP)

(File, Eraldo Peres, AP)

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Cape Town – There are no mosquitoes capable of spreading the Zika virus in South Africa, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi reiterated on Wednesday.

The minister was briefing the health committee in Parliament on the Zika virus in the country.

So far, only one case of the virus has been confirmed in the country, when a Colombian businessman who was visiting South Africa was diagnosed in February.

Motsoaledi reassured MPs that a secondary spread of the Zika virus was unlikely.

"This Zika virus has not given me sleepless nights," he said.

He said the department had increased surveillance at ports of entries.

"Our special focus on ports of entry is the possibility of transported mosquitoes. We make sure that even before a plane leaves one of the affected countries, it is sprayed thoroughly."

The minister said the only way the Zika-carrying mosquito could get into the country was if it was imported, and they were taking precautions against that.

Motsoaledi said the biggest concern was to pregnant women, as there was no vaccine or cure available.

He called on pregnant women to avoid traveling to areas where the Zika virus had been found.

"First prize would be pregnant women not travelling at all to these countries," he said.

He said if they were forced to travel, then they should make sure that they took precautions to make sure no mosquitoes came near them.

He said there was no reason to panic over the Zika virus in South Africa.

It was a self-limiting virus, he said, that disappeared from the body within seven days.

"I don’t know of anyone who died of Zika virus," he said.

Malaria the biggest problem

MPs questioned the minister about the focus on ports of entry, the need for more communication and the education of smaller communities about the virus.

Motsoaledi said, while they were keeping an eye on the Zika virus, the biggest problem was malaria which is also spread by mosquitoes.

That was what was giving him sleepless nights, he said.

The health minister called on travellers to take extra precautions when going to countries were the Zika virus has been found.

These include:

- Wearing mosquito repellent all over the body;

- Wear long sleeves and keeping the body covered to prevent mosquito bites;

- Making sure there are air conditioners in the rooms you stay in;

- And if there are no air conditioners, sleeping with the fan on close-by.

"All the mosquitoes will be blown away, they can’t get past the strength of the fan," he said.

Read more on:    aaron motsoaledi  |  zika virus  |  health

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