SANTO DOMINGO – Dominican Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino on Wednesday asked women to postpone getting pregnant this year due to the threat posed by the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects.
Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same insect that carries dengue fever, Chikungunya and yellow fever.
During a meeting of the National Commission for the Control of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, the minister said that an ever clearer relationship is being established between the virus and the incidence of babies being born with abnormally small skulls, a condition known as microcephaly.
Also, she announced that 27 samples from different patients had been sent to the United States for testing to determine if they are cases of the Zika virus.
Guzman Marcelino reiterated the importance of eliminating the breeding sites for mosquitoes.
The health ministry asked pregnant women to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellants that do not cause undesirable effects on a fetus, wearing clothing that covers the skin, using mosquito netting at night and having more frequent prenatal checkups.
Public Health Management director Jose Manuel Puello said Tuesday that Zika symptoms are not as serious as those of dengue or Chikungunya and that treating those symptoms is commonly done by administering acetaminophen, using lotion to keep swelling down on the associated skin rash and hydrating the affected area with a saline solution, just like for other mosquito-borne endemic illnesses.
However, he emphasized that the most effective measures against the disease are eliminating mosquito breeding sites near homes and covering standing water sources for domestic use.