Kingdom alive to Zika virus threat

Workers from the Rio de Janeiro Health Secretary distribute kits with information about the Zika virus during a street carnival on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday.

Workers from the Rio de Janeiro Health Secretary distribute kits with information about the Zika virus during a street carnival on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday.


Saudi Aabia has been taking preventive measures against the Zika virus, which is fast becoming a global concern. Zika is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania.

Its outbreaks have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific thus far.

Faisal Al-Zahrani, Health Ministry spokesman, told Arab News that even Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih has emphasized preventive measures taken by all countries in the region against the virus.

Al-Zahrani said a special type of mosquito carries this virus. “Mosquitoes in Jazan spread the rift valley fever, while the ones in Jeddah spread dengue fever, which has been brought under control,” he said, pointing out that the environment in the two regions is not conducive for Zika mosquitoes as there are no swamps where they can breed.

He added that the ministry has alerted the quarantine departments at all entry points to monitor the incoming passengers. He said the ministry has also directed Saudi diplomatic missions abroad, especially those in South and Central America, to take precautions against travelers from there.

He said there is less passenger traffic from the affected countries and that there is no direct flight from there to the Kingdom.

The ministry has already distributed pamphlets and literature on the virus and its preventive measures.

“It is not a dangerous disease but only one out of five patients shows symptoms of fever,” he said, adding that it is particularly dangerous for pregnant women who, if hit by the virus, could have deformed babies.

According to the WHO, the symptoms of Zika are similar to other mosquito-borne infections such as dengue, and may include a fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2 to 7 days.


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