Govt to guard against Zika | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 05, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:30 AM, February 05, 2016

Govt to guard against Zika

Surveillance at air, water, land ports to be stepped up; travellers from affected nations to be screened

The government will strengthen surveillance at air, water and land ports across the country and screen travellers coming from countries affected by Zika epidemic. 

The medical teams working at the ports will be strengthened, said Prof AKM Shamsuzzaman, director of the Centre for Disease Control of the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).

If needed, blood samples will be collected from travellers from the Zika-affected nations and be tested, he told The Daily Star.

The decisions were taken yesterday at a technical committee meeting chaired by DGHS Director General Deen Mohammad Noorul Haque at Kurmitola General Hospital in the capital.

The move came after the World Health Organisation on Monday declared a global public health emergency on mosquito-borne Zika virus, first discovered in Uganda in 1947. 

A Zika virus infection causes symptoms like fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting a week. 

However, the virus has been suspected of being responsible for birth defects in Brazil. In South America, panic ran high as infections of pregnant women by the virus were thought to be causing microcephaly meaning the babies were born with a small head and brain.

There is no vaccine for the disease, WHO says.

WHO of South-East Asian region that includes Bangladesh has been urged to strengthen surveillance and take measures to prevent the spread of Zika infection.

Bangladesh is not immune to the virus as Aedes Aegypti that spreads the virus is an active vector of dengue here.

AKM Shamsuzzaman told The Daily Star that the government had decided to take all possible measures, including engaging local government bodies, mainly city corporations, in tackling mosquitoes.

The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh have all facilities to detect Zika virus, he said.

Yesterday's meeting also decided to create awareness that Zika is not a dangerous virus and that no death has been recorded yet because of Zika infection.

“We urge people, therefore, not to be panicked,” Shamsuzzaman said.

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