Ministry Of Health Issues Zika Virus Update

February 3, 2016

The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment would like to update the public on its efforts regarding the prevention of the Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne illness that results in fever, rash and joint pains, among other symptoms.

A spokesperson said, “The Ministry has a very robust mosquito monitoring and control program that is the envy of many other islands. Unlike many other countries and due to our advantage of a relatively small geographic area, Bermuda intervenes in the mosquito life cycle at the larval stage, preventing most mosquitoes from maturing and continuing their life.

“Another advantage Bermuda enjoys is our high standard of building and screening of openings and the number of air conditioned buildings and relative lack of abandoned and derelict areas.

“The Vector Control Section of the Environmental Health Department works diligently to monitor mosquito distribution and eliminate mosquito breeding sites and also continually monitors the amount of mosquito activity at sites around the island so can easily identify any changes in the population and monitoring is done all year round and not just in the main mosquito breeding season [Summer].

“If mosquito breeding is found or reported, inspections of an area and additional control measures are conducted. Similarly, the Environmental Health Department has a comprehensive control plan should a report of a sick person travelling from an affected area be received for virus infections such as Dengue, Chikungunya or Zika.

“Suspected and confirmed cases of Zika are reportable to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit [ESU], who will investigate and put control measures in place to prevent ongoing transmission. Ongoing monitoring for ill travellers continues at the LF Wade International Airport in collaboration with the Department of Customs.

“There have been no cases thus far of Zika Virus infection reported in Bermuda. The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit [ESU] in the Ministry conducts ongoing surveillance for rash and fever, with the collaboration of health care providers.

“Individuals experiencing such symptoms, and who have a recent history of travel to affected regions, should inform their health care professional.

“Physicians should report any suspected cases of Zika virus, or related vector-borne infections such as Dengue fever or Chikungunya, to the ESU [278-6503]. The ESU will investigate such reports and put control measures into place.

“The public are advised, as always, to avoid mosquito bites when travelling to regions where mosquito-borne diseases are common. Particularly, at this time pregnant travelers, or women who may become pregnant, are cautioned to consider the risks with their health care providers, and consider limiting travel to such regions [see below, FAQ #8].

Frequently Asked Questions:

I am pregnant or planning to become pregnant. How will Zika virus affect me or my unborn baby? Should I travel to a country where cases of Zika have been reported?

  • Research is currently under way on possible mother-to-child transmission of the virus and its effects on babies. This alert follows reports in Brazil of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly [abnormal smallness of the head] and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
  • Out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:
  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip
  • Pregnant women who travel to areas where Zika virus is circulating should mention this during their prenatal check-ups.

What does PAHO [Pan American Health Organization] recommend to women of childbearing age with respect to becoming pregnant in areas where Zika virus is circulating?

  • PAHO/WHO recommends they take preventive measures to avoid mosquito bites. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should seek prenatal care to receive information and monitoring of their pregnancy and to follow their doctors’ recommendations. Pregnant women and women of reproductive age should follow the same recommendations as all travellers.

What can travelers do to prevent Zika?

  • There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
    • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear [such as boots, pants, socks, and tents]. You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

What should I do if I think I have Zika?

  • Seek medical advice. Treat the symptoms:
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicines as directed by your healthcare provider, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Protect others. Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.
  • See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika virus cases have been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.

How is Zika virus [Zika] transmitted?

  • Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Research is currently under way on possible mother-to-child transmission of the virus and its effects on babies. Bermuda does not have the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the one which carries Zika virus, but rather Aedes albopictus. This has the potential to transmit the virus, but is not the type involved in the current outbreak.

Who is at risk of being infected?

  • Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found, who has not already been infected with Zika virus, is at risk for infection.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection [Zika]?

  • About one in five people infected with Zika will get sick. Many people might not realize that they have been infected. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis [red eyes]. Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Rarely, in some individuals infected with Zika virus, more serious neurologic complications can occur.

What countries are presently noted to have ongoing transmission of Zika virus?

  • Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks had been identified in countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In May 2015, the first confirmed Zika virus infection occurred in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries in the Americas including:

Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guyana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname and Venezuela.

“The United States has reported cases of Zika virus in returning travelers, but no ongoing transmission.

“Please check the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] website [] for the most up to date report on countries affected.”

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Comments (5)

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  1. Up to date says:

    Texas as reported its first case of ZIKA/ ZIK V transmission through sexual intercourse. Regardless of mosquito being in Bermuda the virus can be spread through sexual intercourse

  2. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Bermuda…get your mosquito controls in place before summer and the mosquito months that will surely be here. Preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance!

  3. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    The world panics over the Zika virus huh.