The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment says it has amplified all efforts, with healthcare providers being briefed on the surveillance and clinical management of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness.
The Zika virus has spread to 20 countries in the Americas and the World Health Organisation has declared Zika in the Americas as a public health emergency of international concern.
This means that the transmission of the Zika virus has the potential to become a pandemic.
“Environmental surveillance has also been increased, with specific emphasis at our ports,” Communications Officer at the Ministry, Neeka Anderson-Isaacs, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“And, as part of a strategy to manage the threat of the Zika virus, a national clean-up drive is underway and is being led by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, with support from other Ministries and stakeholders, and is aimed at reducing the aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector which transmits the Zika, Chickungunya and Dengue viruses,” Anderson-Isaacs said.
There are no reported cases of Zika virus infection in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but the virus has spread to 20 countries in the Americas.
Stringent measures are, however, being put in place to manage it, should it surface,” Anderson-Isaacs said.
The Zika virus is a viral disease characterised by fever, rash and bodyaches. It is one virus of the viral family that includes Yellow Fever, West Nile, Chikungunya and Dengue.
But unlike some of those viruses, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, nor is there medicine to treat the infection.
Zika is commanding worldwide attention because of an increased incidence of microcephaly in regions with increased Zika infection.
Microcephaly is a neurological disorder that results in babies being born with abnormally small heads. This causes severe developmental issues, and sometimes death.
The WHO has indicated that the experts have agreed that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven.
All are agreed on the urgent need to coordinate local and international efforts to investigate and understand this relationship better.
The WHO estimates that 3 million to 4 million people across the Americas will be infected with the virus in 2016.
Public health surveillance is a key strategy in the fight against any disease, and entails the on-going scrutiny of all aspects of the spread of a disease pertinent to effective control.