by Rimaliza A. Opiña
The Baguio General Hospital is one of the six hospitals identified by the Department of Health as one of the testing centers for suspected cases of Zika virus.
The DOH, which currently has 1,000 testing kits, will distribute these to the six hospitals for Polymerase Reaction Testing (PCR) next week. A PCR enables the monitoring of the amount of a virus present, or viral load, in a person’s body.
The BGH is a tertiary, ISO-certified, Level 3 medical center.
The DOH has intensified its information and education campaign on how to prevent acquiring the virus, following the World Health Organization’s recent declaration that acquiring the Zika virus is now a public health emergency of international concern.
Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is also spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.
According to the DOH, although there is no known vaccine against Zika virus yet, the best way to prevent it is by keeping the surroundings clean.
The DOH reminded the public to continue observing the “4S,” referring to search and destroy mosquito breeding places, use self-protection measures, seek early consultation for fever lasting more than two days, and say yes to fogging only when there is an impending outbreak.
Symptoms of Zika virus infection usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis or commonly known as “sore eyes.” Other symptoms are muscle pain, headache, and vomiting. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for two to seven days.
The DOH also warned women who are pregnant or those planning to become pregnant to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Women who acquire the Zika virus during their pregnancy reportedly give birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition where a baby has an abnormally small head.
Symptoms of the Zika virus are treated with common pain and fever medicines, rest, and plenty of water.
The first Zika virus case in the Philippines was in 2012, in Cebu City.