Philippine Red Cross intensifies campaign to prevent Zika virus spread

In response to the latest confirmed Zika virus cases in the country, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has intensified its campaign in disseminating information on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to the recent report from Department of Health (DOH), six people have already been tested positive for Zika virus - four of the patients are from IloIlo while the other two came from Cebu and Laguna. This brings to nine the total number of confirmed cases in the Philippines this year.

It was also reported that the new four recent confirmed Zika cases in Iloilo are more than 10 kilometers away from the three cases earlier recorded in the city.

"As the World Health Organization (WHO) considered Zika as a global health threat, I immediately advised all our staff and Red Cross 143 volunteers nationwide to lead the campaign to prevent the spread of the virus by closely monitoring affected area and providing all necessary information and preventive measures to the public," said PRC Chairman Richard J. Gordon.

The PRC mobilized all its chapters nationwide to make available helpful guides on how to prevent and deal with the disease through social media sites and other information sources, especially in Central Visayas where recently confirmed cases were recorded.

Zika infection is characterized by mild symptoms such as mild fever, skin rashes, joint pain, fatigue, headache, and red eyes. So far, there is no vaccine yet against the Zika virus.

Zika virus is transmitted directly by Aedes aegypti, which is the same mosquito that transmits Dengue and Chikungunya. It can also be passed on through blood transfusion and sexual intercourse with an infected person. Zika virus may also result to severe birth defects called microcephaly or babies with abnormally small heads.

Thus, PRC urges the public to be more vigilant by protecting themselves against mosquito bites. Wearing light-colored clothes, using mosquito nets at home, and using insect repellents authorized by health authorities are highly advised. Practicing cleanliness is also important. Eliminate all possible mosquito-breeding sites such as flower pots, old tires, bottles, and any other recipients where water can accumulate.

Soon after a Zika infection case was first monitored in the country in 2012, PRC already initiated various preventive activities like cleanup drives and public health campaigns. PRC also advised blood donors to defer their blood donations for one month if they are at risk of Zika virus exposure or have travelled to Zika affected areas, to lessen the risk of passing the virus in the locality.

Source: Philippine Information Agency