By anguillian February 29, 2016 11:07 Updated




Zika Virus. What is it? The World Health Organisation states that Zika is a member of the virus family, Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1947, so it has been identified for a very long time. The Zika Virus is related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses all of which are NOT in Anguilla and have never been a problem in the Caribbean.

The infection, known as Zika Fever, often causes no, or only mild, symptoms similar to a mild form of dengue fever. It is treated by rest. Since the 1950s it has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. The virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean – between 2013 and 2014 – to French Polynesia, New Caledonia, the Cook Islands, and Easter Island, and in 2015 to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America – so if its in Mexico, its in the USA.

The Zika Virus made headlines recently when it was found in certain parts of Brazil. The Brazilian authorities have been aggressive in tackling this situation. In February 2016, the claim was made that there was evidence that Zika Fever in pregnant women can cause abnormal brain development in their fetuses, by mother-to-child transmission, which may result in miscarriage or microcephaly (small heads in babies). There are many professionals in the medical field who are questioning this assertion given the age of the virus and no previous evidence that it caused these birth defects. In the area that it has been found in Brazil, another reason for the birth defects is being uncovered. A report last week has raised questions about a pesticide used to kill mosquito larvae – linking its use to the increase in cases of microcephaly in Brazil.

The insecticide, called pyriproxyfen, is added to water to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching and growing properly. Doctors in Argentina, with a group called “Physicians Against Fumigated Towns”, came out with a report last week that said Brazil had started using the chemical in drinking water a few months before health officials began noticing an increase in newborns with small heads.

“It’s a hypothesis, a probability,” says Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician in Cordoba, Argentina, and the main author of the report. “And for us, it’s more likely that it’s the chemical larvicide and not Zika.” The message quickly spread in the Brazilian media and, last Saturday, health officials in one Brazilian state announced that they would stop using pyriproxyfen in drinking water. One of the main arguments is that if the compound can interfere with insect development, then it might also interfere with human development.

Much of the above may be debatable but one thing is certain: ANGUILLA DOES NOT HAVE THE ZIKA VIRUS. There is no reason to cancel your travel plans even if you are pregnant or want to become pregnant in the near future. I recently entertained Anguilla’s Chief Medical Officer , Dr. Aisha Andrewin, on my weekly radio talk show, “On Da Spot with Haydn Hughes”, and she stated the same. The same protocol you would use against mosquitos on a normal basis should be used. It should be noted that there are states in the USA that have reported incidents of Zika but persons are traveling freely to and from those states. Persons have a greater chance of contracting Zika in the USA than in Anguilla. This may be debated but it’s factual.

It is widely known that this year’s Olympic Games will be held in Brazil, the epicenter for Zika. This is not stopping the games. Thousands and thousands of people will converge on Brazil from across the globe. The best athletes in the world will be there vying for a chance at Olympic stardom. We will have two athletes in these games and both of them are in the top five global rankings in their particular sport (Shara Proctor, Long Jump and Zharnel Hughes, 200m sprint). Officials, members of government, Royalty, and even us common folk, will all be in Brazil. So why would you not want to travel to the Caribbean and to Anguilla in particular?

If you have plans to vacation, or just get away from the cold and looking for a warm weather destination, make Anguilla your first, second and third choice. If you have always wanted to visit Anguilla, or have been here before and want to return, please do. Now is just as good a time as any.

Hope to see you in Anguilla soon.

By anguillian February 29, 2016 11:07 Updated


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