THE Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) received notification of six lab confirmed Zika virus cases detected in Honiara by the Molecular Laboratory at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) as of 30th September 2023.
The six cases were detected out of 270 blood samples screened using Trioplex PRC kits donated by SPC as part of strengthening lab support in preparations for the Pacific Games 2023.
Solomon Islands recorded the first zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak in 2015, with five PCR-confirmed cases in Honiara and more than 300 suspected cases, from February to May, 2015. Due to limited lab testing at that time, the extent of the outbreak in other provinces was not fully known.
Zika virus is spread by the Aedes mosquito, the same mosquito that causes dengue fever and which mostly bites during the day. Zika virus infection is usually mild and most people do not show symptoms. For those who develop symptoms, the symptoms may appear 3-14 days after being infected. The symptoms include rash, fever, non-purulent conjunctivitis (red eyes with no pus), muscle and joint pain, generally feeling unwell and headache which can last for 2-7 days. The symptoms of zika infection is similar to other mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and therefore requires laboratory confirmation for proper diagnosis.
Although zika virus infection is mild, it can cause serious medical conditions such as microcephaly (a birth complication, babies born with small heads) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a rare condition that damages the body’s immune system).
Currently there are no cure for Zika virus but the most effective measure to prevent its transmission is to reduce the population of its vectors near our residential areas or properties.
Based on this fact, the MHMS therefore calls on Honiara residents and property owners to get rid of mosquito breeding sites near your properties.
Common breeding sites are water-holding objects like disposed containers, bottles, tins, used tyres, disposed water-taps, old vehicles, old drums, old fridges and broken eskies, flower and coconut shells. Regularly clean your roof gutters, cover all water-storage containers like water-tanks, fibro-containers, and open metal drums to stop dengue and Zika virus vectors from using them as breeding sites.
Though there are no recorded deaths due to Zika virus infection in SI, deaths can still occur in severe Zika-related GBS cases and unborn babies due to complications caused by ZIKV in pregnant mothers. Thus, with no current treatment available for ZIKV infection, the most affordable and effective measure to prevent ZIKV transmission is for us is to carry-out the preventable measures recommended to reduce the population of the ZIKV vector or mosquito near our residential areas and properties.