S. African Olympic delegation urged to take precautions against Zika

February 22, 2016 11:09 am 

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 21 — Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Saturday urged the South African delegation for the Rio Olympics to take precautions against the Zika virus.

The minister told a press conference in Johannesburg that he has already written to Minister of Sports and Recreation to advice of precautions they need to take like mosquito repellents.

Motsoaledi was speaking after the first Zika case was confirmed in South Africa on Friday.

The minister assured the nation that the patient, a Colombian businessman, contacted the virus in his home country before he came to South Africa.

There was no need to panic as precautions have been taken to ensure that mosquito carrying Zika does not reach South Africa, the minister said.

As Zika causes babies to be born with abnormalities, he urged pregnant women not to travel to countries where the virus is widespread.

It will be much safer for pregnant women to stay home, but for any other group of people like people going there for Olympics, they should take precautions, Motsoaledi said.

SA health authorities on Friday confirmed the first Zika case involving a Colombian businessman.

The businessman who visited Johannesburg has been diagnosed with Zika by a private Johannesburg pathology laboratory, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

At the moment the SA National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is busy conducting confirmatory tests.

This businessman was in SA for four days when he went to see his doctor because of fever and rash, but now he is fully recovered.

The confirmation of this particular case poses no risk to the South African population as the virus is not transmitted from human to human but through the Aedes aegypti mosquito and or possibly from mother to the foetus in pregnant women, health authorities said.

The virus is causing international alarm after spreading quickly in South and Central America and the Caribbean, with Brazil the worst affected country.

The World Health Organization declared an international health emergency on Feb. 1 over the virus, citing concern over a possible link with a rise in cases of microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head that can result in developmental problems.

Most infected people have no symptoms or mild ones, including fever and skin rashes.

A case of sexual transmission was recently reported in the United States but is still regarded as very rare. (PNA/Xinhua)

LGI/SSC

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