Red Cross steps up campaign vs Zika virus

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THE Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has intensified its campaign in disseminating information on how to prevent the spread of Zika virus in the country.

According to a recent report from the Department of Health (DOH), six people have tested positive for the virus.

Four of the patients are from IloIlo province while the other two came from the provinces of Cebu and Laguna.
This brings to nine the total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines this year.

It was also reported that the four new recently confirmed Zika virus cases in Iloilo are more than 10 kilometers away from the three cases earlier recorded in the city.

“As the World Health Organization (WHO) considered Zika as a global health threat, I immediately advised all our staff and the Red Cross’ 143 volunteers nationwide to lead the campaign to prevent the spread of the virus by closely monitoring affected areas and providing all necessary information and preventive measures to the public,” Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said.

He added that they have mobilized all its chapters nationwide to make available helpful guides on how to prevent and deal with the disease through social media sites and other information sources, especially in Central Visayas where the recently confirmed cases were recorded.

Zika virus infection is characterized by mild symptoms such as mild fever, skin rashes, joint pain, fatigue, headache and red eyes.

So far, there is no vaccine yet against the virus.

Zika virus is transmitted directly by Aedes aegypti, the same mosquito species that transmits dengue and chikungunya.

It can also be passed on through blood transfusion and sexual intercourse with an infected person.

The Zika virus may cause a severe birth defect called microcephaly where babies are born with abnormally small heads.

The Red Cross urged the public to be more vigilant by protecting themselves against mosquito bites.
Wearing light-colored clothes and using mosquito nets at home and insect repellents authorized by health authorities are highly advised.

Practicing cleanliness is also deemed important.

The public is enjoined to eliminate all possible mosquito-breeding sites such as flower pots, old tires, bottles and any other containers where water can accumulate.

Soon after a Zika infection case was first monitored in the country in 2012, the Red Cross initiated various preventive activities like clean-up drives and public-health campaigns.

It also advised blood donors to defer their blood donations for one month if they are at risk of Zika virus exposure or have traveled to Zika-affected areas, to lessen the risk of passing the virus in the locality.

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