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Food & Health

4 Ways To Protect Yourself Against The Zika Virus

As of 30 August 2016, the Ministry of Health confirmed 82 cases of locally transmitted Zika virus infection in Singapore. It is important that we remain vigilant about our health and surroundings, in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones. As of 25 August 2016, 70 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission since 2007. Knowing which countries have been affected can help you in making travel plans so as to reduce the chances of infection from these areas. For a list of countries affected, click here.

Quick facts:

  • The Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito, the same mosquito that spreads Dengue. 
  • There is no known vaccine or specific anti-viral medicine to treat the infection.
  • All cases in Singapore were clustered in Sims Drive, Aljunied Crescent, Kallang Way and Paya Lebar Way. Those infected were not known to have travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, and thus confirms that local transmission of Zika virus infection has taken place. Other areas of concern include Khatib Camp, Sembawang Drive and places where the construction workers live (Kranji Road, Joo Chiat Place, Senoko South Road, Toh Guan Road East and Lor 101 Changi).
  • There are strong links between the virus and microcephaly, a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. These babies also have severe developmental issues. In some cases, the virus has caused death. About 1% to 13% of women infected while pregnant could give birth to babies microcephaly and other brain defects.
  • In most people, the symptoms of the infection are mild. Those infected suffer from fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, rash and conjunctivitis. Symptoms are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya. 

Here are some ways you can protect yourself:

  1. Postpone travels to countries affected. If travelling to those countries are absolutely necessary, take precautions by wearing long, covered clothing, applying insect-repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets. This especially applies to pregnant women as the effects of infection on the baby can be very serious. 
  2. Practice safer sexual practices, e.g. consistent and correct use of condoms during sex, or consider abstinence. For those returning from countries with ongoing outbreaks, consider abstinence for at least 8 weeks. Those diagnosed with Zika should consider abstinence for at least 6 months.
  3. For those living in affected areas in Singapore, monitor your health closely, and make a visit to the doctor immediately if you notice symptoms. Similarly, wear covered clothing, apply mosquito repellant and sleep in air-conditioned rooms or under mosquito nets.
  4. Prevent Aedes mosquito breeding. The Aedes mosquito is easily identifiable by the distinctive black and white stripes on its body. You can do the 10 minute Mozzie Wipeout: 

    –  Change water in vases and bowls on alternate days
    Remove water from flower pot plates on alternate days
    Turn over all water storage containers
    Cover bamboo pole holders when not in use
    Clear blockages and put BTI insecticide in roof gutters monthly