The Department of Health is closely monitoring the situation and studying the Zika virus abroad to ensure public safety.
Global health experts have raised alarms that the Zika virus outbreak in Latin America could be a bigger threat to global health than the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in Africa.
Zika virus is a tropical infection that is new to the Western Hemisphere.
The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
“In many ways the Zika outbreak is worse than the Ebola epidemic of 2014-15,” said Jeremy Farrar, head of the Wellcome Trust. “Most virus carriers are symptomless. It is a silent infection in a group of highly vulnerable individuals – pregnant women – that is associated with a horrible outcome for their babies.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease include fever, rashes, joint pains, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
The virus usually causes only mild disease, but it has been linked to a serious birth defect in the infants of women who are infected during their pregnancies.
The infection appears to be linked to the development of unusually small heads and brain damage in newborns or fetal deformation called microcephaly.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. It anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) earlier warned that the Zika virus is ‘spreading explosively’ at a rate that could affect as many as four million people by the end of the year. WHO is set to meet on Monday to decide whether the Zika could be a global threat.
CDC has warned pregnant women to avoid travel 14 countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America, where the virus is spreading.
PCOO Secretary Manuel Quezon III advised the public to maintain cleanliness and orderliness in their homes and destroy the breeding grounds of mosquitoes, the known carrier of the disease.
“Kung mayroon tayong nakikitang outbreak of dengue or similar diseases, do get in touch with your barangay health center or ‘yung barangay mismo para pwede silang mag-coordinate with the DOH para magkaroon ng pest control,” Quezon said in a report.
PAHO said the most effective forms of prevention of contracting Zira virus are (1) reducing mosquito populations by eliminating their potential breeding sites, especially containers and other items (such as discarded tires) that can collect water in and around households; and (2) using personal protection measures to prevent mosquito bites.
Among the countries and territories with confirmed cases of Zika infections include Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana.