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BAHRAIN ON ALERT: Passengers from Zika-affected areas monitored

Bahrain News
Wed, 10 Aug 2016
By Raji Unnikrishnan

Bahrain: Bahrain remains on alert to prevent the Zika virus entering the country, despite being given the all-clear.

The Health Ministry has found no trace of mosquitoes that carry the virus in Bahrain, Health Minister Faeqa Al Saleh said in a statement yesterday. 

However, public health director Dr Mariyam Al Hajeri said entry points and passengers from affected areas were being monitored.

“Following the announcement indicating the outbreak of the disease in the US, we have held a number of meetings involving public and private health sector officials to update our follow-up plan for tackling and preventing the disease,” she said.

“Our labs are well-equipped to detect the disease and are internationally accredited, with qualified staff. 

“We are also spreading notice about precaution and prevention of the virus through media channels – and we urge the public to alert us of any concern they witness.”

Most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, muscle pain and headache. 

However, infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects – and there is no vaccine.

Dr Al Hajeri said the ministry was in contact with the World Health Organistaion (WHO) regarding the virus, but advised travellers and pregnant women to be cautious, to carry mosquito repellent, close windows and doors, use mosquito nets while sleeping and to wear clothing that covers the body when visiting affected areas.

“Travellers to the affected areas must take caution, follow prevention measures and avoid potential breeding areas of mosquitoes,” she added. “Pregnant women should be extra cautious and should preferably avoid travelling to affected areas and stay away from areas of mosquito breeding.”

Much of Central America, South America and the Caribbean has seen active local spread of Zika, while the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 1,657 travel-related Zika cases within the US. 

The GDN previously reported that the Bahrain Olympic delegation was taking all precautions against the threat of Zika in Brazil, after some senior golfers and tennis stars withdrew from the tournament.

The Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) signed up with Singapore company Amber Laboratories for a supply of insect repellent.

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