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Cook Islands still Zika free

Thursday February 11, 2016 Written by Published in Health

While the Zika virus continues to spread in neighbouring countries, the Cook Islands remains a safe haven with the mosquito-borne virus yet to enter the country.

 

Cook Islands Community Health Services director Doctor Neti Herman told CINews that we do not have any suspected cases of the virus in the country.

After Samoa and American Samoa, the Kingdom of Tonga has reported Zika cases of 549 up to Monday, including seven cases that were confirmed by laboratory blood tests.

“As of today (yesterday), there are still no case(s) of Zika reported here in Rarotonga or the outer islands,” Herman said.

“However, we must not be complacent, but be proactive in putting in place prevention programmes.

“For example, we have been using media programmes such as TV, radio and print media. We have also the roll over TV programme that we now have at the airport which we are targeting visitors arriving from overseas.

“We are also continuing with our border control measures at the airport and working in partnership with our customs and immigration staff at the airport.”

The ministry has also been considering reactivating Operation Namu and have submitted a proposal to the Cabinet for its approval.

Operation Namu is a nationwide fight against mosquito-bourne diseases which involves cleaning the mosquito breeding and resting sites.

It proved the most effective means to fight dengue outbreak which claimed some lives in 2002.

The approval from cabinet will allow public servants to participate in this mass clean-up programme with the private sector and the community.

“So as soon as we have confirmed the plan, we will announce the date and the details of the planned activities.

“In the meantime, we are still encouraging people to clean up around their homes and villages.

“I have also indicated during our key stakeholders meeting last week that our emphasis is on preventive measures that is, in keeping the Zika virus away from our shores, and we want our people to know that we the Ministry of Health cannot do this alone.

“We need our parents, families, traditional leaders, churches, communities, Members of Parliaments and Government. We need everyone’s input in keeping this virus away.”

Herman and her team are monitoring the situation in neighbouring countries with the World Health Organisation (WHO) providing daily updates on the Zika status in the region and around the globe.

Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions.

This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever and is present in the Cook Islands.

WHO says while there is currently no vaccine available for Zika virus disease, it is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment.

But an outbreak in Latin America of Zika has been linked to an increase in the number of babies being born smaller-than-usual brains and heads.

5 comments

  • Comment Link L. Steven Spak Sunday, 21 August 2016 19:14 posted by L. Steven Spak

    I live in Florida, USA...north of Miami....people here think ZIKA is harmless and are not concerned....I am a theoretical viral geneticist and they laugh at me when warn them....they dont take it seriously.....would like to know more about long term effects.....tpowrchargers@gmail.com

  • Comment Link Teresa Thursday, 04 August 2016 09:01 posted by Teresa

    I have just confirmed I am pregnant. I had already booked a trip to Aitutaki in September. Should I be cautious about travelling to the cook islands?

  • Comment Link Tammy Sunday, 29 May 2016 14:05 posted by Tammy

    Fletcher it is widely reported and open public knowledge that there was a Zike outbreak in the Cook Islands in 2014...it's on various news articles and publications you don't have to look hard at all.

  • Comment Link Fletcher Saturday, 27 February 2016 11:03 posted by Fletcher

    My mum caught Zika in the Cook Islands in 2014, and the lab manager wouldn't give her a written confirmation of her blood test results... She was told she had it by him, but he wouldn't put it in writing...

    She still has Zika today, and can't claim on her medical insurance because the Cook Islands didn't want to have a confirmed case of it!!!

    Unbelievable... You can't hide the truth forever...

  • Comment Link Iseta Harris Monday, 22 February 2016 21:02 posted by Iseta Harris

    Watching citv news this evening mon 22nd February 2016 heard a lady talk about a Friday clean up day, planet change/ climate change re Zika virus....
    I want to come help with clean up, but can't find any information on the net.
    Can you source where, when the clean up is happening on Friday in Rarotonga.
    Regards
    Iseta