As of the month of September, 2016, there is now a total of nine reported cases of Zika in the Philippines recorded this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Six were added to the previous three last Tuesday, September 20. Patients that tested positive to the virus reside in Iloilo City, Cebu City, and Laguna and are between the ages 9 to 49 years old.
DOH spokesperson Eric Tayag said all the patients are expected to recover soon, but the DOH expects more infections in the coming days, reported CNN Philippines. This means we need to make a more conscious effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
The mosquito-borne disease, which can be transmitted through mosquito bites and sexual intercourse, has symptoms that include rashes, red eyes, joint pains and fevers. More alarming, however, is its effects on pregnant women. The Zika virus is linked with microcephaly, a serious neurological defect in newborn babies resulting in a shrunken head and brain, causing damaging developmental disorders.
Tayag advised pregnant women to be tested for Zika. “Otherwise, use safe insect repellents at sa gayon mabawasan ang paglagay sa panganib,” he added.
What exactly is a safe insect repellent for pregnant women? You may turn to “natural products” like those with citronella and eucalyptus in order to avoid the chemicals found in commercial products.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) still recommends--and the DOH agrees--that pregnant women use products that contain DEET (with the full chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). It’s proven as the most effective and is safe for pregnant women and kids, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a 2015 study that tested commercial mosquito repellents, DEET was found to be the most effective for both the initial application and after four hours of use. It doesn’t kill mosquitos but effectively keeps them away.
“DEET is the standard,” Dr. Mustapha Debboun, director of the mosquito control division of Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services in the U.S., told NPR. “All the repellents being tested are tested to see if they beat DEET.”
Other ingredients to look for in insect repellents are KBR 3023 and IR 3535 (picaridin and icaridin), says WHO. Check the packaging of your insect repellent lotion for the mentioned three. See Smartparenting.com.ph’s list of insect repellent products sold in the Philippines that contain these active ingredients here. WHO also reminds pregnant women to follow the application instructions found on the label.
In addition, the sexual partners of pregnant women are also advised to follow the same preventive measures including observing safe sex by using condoms to avoid transmission of infection.
The Zika virus has no known cure as of now and possible vaccines are currently undergoing human clinical trials to test its effectiveness. The DOH reminds everyone to do the "4s" to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds in the home and in the community:
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Search and destroy mosquito breeding places. Clear standing water. Cover water storage containers with tight-fitting lids.
Use self-protection measures. Wear long-sleeved clothes and long pants and apply mosquito repellant on the skin.
Seek early consultation with a health professional for fever lasting more than two days.