WITH Zika now in Cebu, the governor ordered a three-in-one clean-up that will prevent the spread of the chikungunya, dengue fever and Zika virus, all carried by the same type of mosquito.
Zika isn’t as dangerous as dengue fever, a health official said. But as a precaution, those who fall ill with Zika should abstain from sex for up to three months, to keep the virus from spreading.
Read: What to know about the tropical Zika virus
Sought for comment, Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella urged quarantine officials in ports to double their efforts in checking those coming from outside the city.
He also urged the Department of Health (DOH) and the City Health Department to work together in identifying those with Zika and planning for an immediate solution.
A Cebuana is one of nine Filipinos confirmed last Tuesday to have been infected with Zika.
Read: 6 new Zika cases in Philippines; 1 in Cebu City
“There is nothing to be scared about. There is no such thing as a severe form of Zika as the infection is always mild to moderate,” said DOH 7 Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas.
“It’s manifested by fever, some joint pains, and conjunctivitis. The only precaution is for pregnant women, as the virus has an effect on the fetus,” he told reporters in a press conference.
Dr. Bernadas also clarified that the chances of the unborn child acquiring the virus are less than 10 percent.
However, as a preventive measure, he urged communities to keep their surroundings clean and eliminate all breeding places of mosquitoes.
“Our drive is similar to that of the campaign against dengue so it’s continuous. Chikungunya, dengue and Zika all have similar vectors, which is the (Aedes aegypti) mosquito that’s why they have the same preventive measures. There are, however, specific sets of tests for each. But severity-wise, dengue remains on top,” Dr. Bernadas said.
Although a Zika patient may become a carrier of the virus for a period of time, Bernadas explained that the stage will lapse after six weeks.
However, for added precaution, he advised those who might be diagnosed with the disease to abstain from sex for two to three months as the virus survives longer in body fluids.
The regional director said that the Cebuana with Zika was treated in a hospital.
As part of its protocol, DOH is also conducting daily follow-ups, which include counseling for the household and immediate members of the patient’s family.
“We’re asking everyone, especially in our homes, to please throw away empty containers that may accumulate water. Include in your cleaning all your downspouts, kitchen pit traps and restrooms. Cover exposed water so that mosquitoes can’t lay eggs on them. Also, immediately flush out water with wrigglers in it,” Bernadas said.
The public is also urged to use mosquito nets when sleeping, use insect repellants and wear tops with sleeves, as well as long pants.
“Dengue remains the most dangerous. For quite a long time, we did not have a panic or scare. Don’t be scared of Zika because it’s mild. Dengue has a vaccine. For Zika we have none as of the moment, but we’re looking into that,” he said.
Last June, DOH’s central office placed the region on high alert status after dengue cases in Central Visayas rose 159 percent higher compared to the previous year’s.
In a previous report, DOH Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and Health Emergency Management Services program manager Dr. Shelbay Blanco said that as of June 4, around 5,728 persons had contracted dengue fever and 46 had died of it.
Only 2,212 infected persons and nine deaths due to dengue fever were monitored in the same period last year.
Also yesterday, Gov. Hilario Davide III ordered all departments and line agencies in the province to conduct a massive clean-up.
The order included “environmental clean-up in schools, canals and river systems,” said Dr. Niño Ismael Pastor of the Provincial Health Office.
He said that the three-in-one task force will involve the Department of Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, Association of Barangay Captains, League of Municipalities, and Department of Education.
As of yesterday, Dr. Pastor said, Cebu has one Zika case (the one in Cebu City), four chikungunya cases (two in Pinamungajan and another two in Balamban) and 4,919 cases of dengue fever since January.
Pastor said the task force will initiate health education and misting in schools and other communities.
“Clean up your homes, and if anyone has a fever, rashes, and joint pains, consult a doctor right away,” Pastor said.