BUENOS AIRES – Following confirmation of Argentina’s first Zika case, a Colombian woman who contracted the disease outside the Southern Cone country, a health expert told EFE there was no longer a risk of her transmitting the disease to others and triggering an outbreak.
The head of infectious diseases at the Otamendi hospital in Buenos Aires, Daniel Pryluka, said the woman diagnosed with Zika in the Argentine capital could no longer start an epidemic in the country because “her symptoms are gone.”
“When the fever goes away, that person no longer has the virus in his or her blood, and for the mosquito to begin a new cycle it has to bite someone who has the virus. This woman no longer had it when she arrived in Argentina, and so she cannot be the initiator of an epidemic,” the expert said Thursday.
“Zika is benign” for the majority of people and only is a cause for concern if the vector of the illness, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, bites a pregnant woman, Pryluka, who also is a member of the Buenos Aires government’s crisis committee, said in reference to the possible link between the virus and a rise in microcephaly cases among newborns in Brazil.
Microcephaly is a rare neurodevelopment disorder in which babies are born with a smaller-than-normal head size.
In the event of a strong outbreak of the disease in Argentina, the specialist said the northeastern provinces would face the greatest risk due to their proximity to countries where the largest number of cases have been reported and because their high temperatures would allow an infected mosquito to live longer.
By contrast, Buenos Aires’ “harsher winter” starting in June would eliminate the mosquito in a few months if its population were to spread.
Also at risk are low-income households because these people tend to collect rainwater for domestic use or “live in a situation in which there are tires or cans lying around,” all of which are possible receptacles for water, the preferred breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the expert said.
Pryluka offered a few simple recommendations, recommending that people eliminate standing water, keep their homes clean, fumigate and use insect repellent and urging pregnant women not to travel to places with the biggest Zika outbreaks.