The Federal Ministry of Health has cautioned pregnant Nigerian women against travelling to countries in Latin America owing to the recent outbreak of the Zika virus – a disease which causes babies to have abnormally small heads and growth difficulties, which is transmitted by a certain class of Mosquito.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole in a statement read by a spokesperson of the ministry, Boade Akinola, said there is no recorded case of the disease in the country yet, although Brazil has recorded thousands of cases.
“The Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Folorunso Adewole is intimating Nigerians on the recent outbreak of Zika virus infection, which was first discovered in Brazil in 2014. The virus is transmitted by a bite of mosquito vector.
“The manifestation of Zika virus infection include: mild fever, rash (mostly maculo-papular), headaches, joint pain (arthralgia), muscle pain (myalgia), loss of weight (asthenia), and non-purulent conjunctivitis. The virus is also associated with higher risk of congenital malformations in newborn when pregnant women are affected.
“The disease usually occurs about three (3) to twelve (12) days after the mosquito vector bite. The World Health Organisation has raised a global alert because the disease has affected about 23 countries in Americas especially in Latin America. At the moment, there is no cure or vaccine for Zika virus infection.
“The federal ministry of health hereby advises a travel restriction especially by pregnant women to Latin America for now until situation improves. In addition, the honourable minister of health has directed Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) to include Zika virus diagnosis as part of ongoing effort to manage Lassa Fever outbreak in the country.
“Prof. Adewole, therefore urges Nigerians to be vigilant and report promptly any case of unexplained fever that is more than 48 hours, especially in those with recent travels to Latin America, to health care professionals. He also enjoined those working at various port of entry into the country to interview anyone coming from any of the Latin American countries for evidence Zika virus symptoms. In conclusion, the minister assures Nigerian that there is no single case of Zika virus infection in the country and there is no need to panic. The federal ministry of health will continue to monitor the situation and update Nigerians of any other developments.”
Meanwhile in El Salvador, women have been urged to avoid getting pregnant until 2018 to avoid their children developing birth defects from the mosquito-borne Zika virus which has rampaged through the Americas.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses. Health experts are unsure why the virus, which was first detected in Africa in 1947 but unknown in the Americas until last year, is spreading so rapidly in Brazil and neighboring countries.
Brazil has recorded nearly 4,000 number of babies born with the suspected microcephaly – or abnormally small heads since October.
The link between microcephaly and Zika has not been confirmed – but a small number of babies who died had the virus in their brain and no other explanation for the surge in microcephaly has been suggested. The virus is not contagious and normally has flu-like symptoms.