Zika virus won’t stop Nigeria’s participation in Rio Olympics


Zika Virus
Zika Virus

The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole has said that the outbreak of Zika virus in South America will not stop Nigeria’s participation in the Rio Olympics Games slated for later in the year.
He however, said that pregnant women would not be allowed to travel to Brazil, advising that suspected case should be reported promptly.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on the outbreak of Zika virus and latest on Lassa fever, the minister asked the public to report suspected Zika case via via these numbers: 097000010-19.
The minister said the mosquitoes carrying the virus exit in Nigeria, stressing that Nigerians should be careful and protect themselves from this virus.
Already, two African countries of Cape Verde and Gabon had reported transmission in between 2015 and 2016.
However, he enjoined Nigerians to remain calm, vigilant and report any suspected case of an acute febrile illness in pregnant women in particular, to any nearest health facility.
The minister noted further that the mosquitoes are active and flying; adding that they bite during the day and early morning.
“Nigerian scientists working in Western Nigeria in 1954 discovered Zika virus in Nigeria. Further studies in the years 1975 to 1979 showed that 40% of Nigeria adults and 25% of Nigerian children have antibodies to Zika virus, meaning they are protected against this virus.
“Despite the fact that some Nigerians are immune to the Zika virus infection as demonstrated by previous studies, it is important and advisable that Nigerians should be careful and protect themselves from mosquito bites.
“There is no vaccine for Zika virus, and no cure other than rest, plenty of fluids and perhaps over-the-counter medication to reduce fevers, aches and pains as previously mentioned. This therefore means that prevention is most effective means of preventing transmission.
“I advise all Nigerians, particularly pregnant women to avoid travelling to countries infected by this virus in these periods. If however, you are to visit any country where Zika virus is now being actively transmitted, you are advised to protect yourselves from mosquito bites. Pregnant women considering travel to affected areas may wish to consult their health-care provider prior to travel and after return.
“They should also practice personal and household steps to prevent mosquito, including putting mosquito repellant on their clothes and skin, wear long sleeves and pants, and sleep underneath mosquito nets at night, where possible. I wish to call on all Nigerians to support our pregnant women and help them access anti-mosquito repellants.
“It is important however, to state categorically, that until now in Africa and Nigeria inclusive, this virus does not cause any serious illness and those so far infected individually recover fully with no serious complications.
“Arrival of this virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has however changed this and its circulation is now associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads named scientifically as Microcephalia.
“The clinical presentation of Zika is similar to many other tropical diseases such as Malaria, typhoid fever common cold or another mosquito-borne disease. This usually makes its diagnosis often difficult.
“Although two African countries have reported Zika infection in the recent outbreak and in the past, many others, causal relationship between Zika virus infection, birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established in this continent.
“There is as of now, no known specific treatment for Zika virus disease. Treatment is therefore generally supportive and it includes rest, fluids, and use of pain killers and antipyretics.
“In a pregnant woman with laboratory evidence of Zika virus in serum or amniotic fluid, serial ultrasounds should be considered to monitor fetal anatomy and growth every 3–4 weeks. Referral to a maternal-fetal medicine or infectious disease specialist with expertise in pregnancy management is recommended.
“All States of the Federation are hereby advised to immediately embark on health education campaigns to empower communities take actions to protect themselves from Zika Virus as well as other mosquito-borne diseases.
“Nigerians returning from these countries should report themselves to any nearest health centres if they start to feel any sickness that requires care, and such a person should inform the healthcare workers about their travel history. I have instructed the Port Health Services of my Ministry to immediately adjust and include points of entry screening to capture anti-Zika activities.
“The Federal Ministry of Health shall collaborate with Ministry of Environment to embark immediately on mosquito population reducing campaigns that will include the use of larvicide (insecticide that kills the mosquito in its larval stage).
“The NCDC has been directed to enhance Zika virus surveillance activities and work with the Arbovirus Research Centre, Enugu to embark on extensive vector control and research activities to confirm the current circulation status of both Zika virus and the mosquitoes that spread it.
“The NCDC has activated EOC on Zika to specifically focus on transmission to track Zika virus in communities and in mosquitoes.
“Healthcare workers are to report any illness in pregnant women with symptoms similar to any hemorrhagic fever, any birth defects, particularly microcephaly to the State Epidemiologists and the NCDC,” the minister said.

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