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Published on : Wednesday, January 27, 2016
With the World Health Organisation’s statement that Zika virus is likely to spread to all countries in the Americas, Peru has stepped up strict supervision of public health officials at ports, airports and border crossings. This has prevented imported cases of Zika virus in Peru so far, Deputy Minister of Public Health Percy Minaya pointed out.
Surveillance entails regular monitoring of suspected cases imported from other countries.
“Our surveillance system has so far allowed us to prevent the spread of the disease, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito —the vector that also carries dengue and chikungunya,” Minaya noted adding, “once a person presents symptoms, a blood sample is taken and tested; results are available 72 hours later.”
The official said Zika has appeared in 19 countries and territories in the Americas. Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador have seen the largest number of cases.
The WHO said in a statement that Brazil has reported 3893 suspected cases of microcephaly, over 30 times more than had been reported in any year since 2010.
The disease’s rapid spread, to 21 countries and territories of the region since May 2015, is due to a lack of immunity among the population and the prevalence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus, WHO said.
Zika virus was linked to a foetal deformation known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with smaller-than-usual brains.
Its spread around the world, since its discovery in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947, has increased substantially as of 2014, due to the increasing air traffic demand.