By Asmaa Bahadi
By Asmaa Bahadi
Rabat – Zika, a mosquito-borne virus, has prompted worldwide concern both due to the virus’s rapid spread across the globe and its alarming connection to a neurological birth disorder when contracted by pregnant women.
Morocco’s Ministry of Health announced that no case of Zika has been reported in the country.
The Ministry of Health has decided to implement a series of measures to protect Moroccans in the potential event of the virus’s spread to the country, by strengthening the epidemiological surveillance system for early detection of any future cases of infection and tracking cases of microcephaly in newborn children.
Blood donations were cancelled for those returning from affected countries for a period of 28 days after reentering Morocco.
As for people with travel plans to countries where Zika is present, the Ministry of Health advises strict adherence to the following mosquito protection measures: using an EPA-approved repellent over sunscreen, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts thick enough to block mosquito bites and sleeping in air-conditioned, screened rooms.
The virus is most commonly transmitted when an Aedes mosquito bites a person with an active infection and subsequently spreads the virus when it bites others. Those infected then become carriers as soon as they experience symptoms.
In most people, symptoms of the virus are mild, including fever, headache, rash and possible pink eye. In fact, 80 percent of those infected never know they have the disease. This is especially concerning for pregnant women, as this virus has now been shown to pass through amniotic fluid to the growing baby.
The Zika virus is now being locally transmitted in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Tonga, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Venezuela, according to the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
With no treatment or vaccine available, the only protection against Zika is to avoid travel to areas with an active infestation.
Researchers are hard at work in laboratories around the world trying to create a Zika vaccine. A clinical trial for a Zika virus vaccine could begin this year.
“While in development, it’s important to understand we won’t have a vaccine this year or even in the next few years, although we may be able to have a clinical trial start this calendar year,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Health.
Edited by Kelsey Fish