In February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the current Zika Virus Disease outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. At least 61 countries and territories around the world currently report ongoing transmission of Zika virus. In the Pacific, this includes: American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga.
There have been no confirmed cases of Chikungunya or Zika virus in Palau, however there are sporadic cases of dengue fever throughout the year. Chikungunya, Dengue Fever and Zika are mosquito-borne diseases transmitted to humans by day-biting Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, both of which are endemic to Palau. As the rainy season begins in Palau, we can expect to see an increase in the mosquito population as the Aedes mosquitoes usually spawn and thrive in standing water.
The best way to prevent infection and the spread of Chikungunya, Dengue Fever and Zika virus is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. The public is urged to maintain cleanliness around homes and yards to prevent the spawning and growth of mosquitoes. Community leaders and organizations are also encouraged to organize community-wide cleanups to eradicate potential mosquito breeding grounds which include shady areas and areas that contain standing water. Contrary to popular belief, the Aedes mosquito is not found in larger bodies of water such as wetlands and ponds such as those located in Malakal. Personal prevention tips include using insect repellent and limiting your outdoor activities around dawn and dusk when the Aedes mosquitoes are most active.
Zika virus during pregnancy can lead to birth defects such as microcephaly where a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain. Pregnant women are strongly advised not to travel to places with ongoing transmission of Zika virus and to take extra precautions to avoid infection. Please see your doctor immediately if you think you have been infected with the Zika virus.
For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, please contact the Bureau of Public Health, Epidemiology Unit at 488-2212 or 488-1360 ext.226 and for more tips on how to stop the breeding of mosquitoes and prevent infection, please contact Vector Control & Prevention Program at the Division of Environmental Health at 488-6073 or 488-6345. [/restrict]