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Thursday, October 28, 2021

Qatar ministry warns travelers about spread of Zika virus


Aedes Aegypti is the type of mosquito thought to spread the Zika virus
Aedes Aegypti is the type of mosquito thought to spread the Zika virus

Qataris traveling to South America should proceed with caution due to the rapid spread of the Zika virus, the nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said.

In a series of tweets yesterday, MOFA also warned citizens living in that region to take care to avoid Zika, which is thought to spread through mosquito bites and has been linked to birth defects.

This is the first time Qatar officials have commented publicly regarding the virus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has said is “spreading explosively” particularly through the Americas.

Today, WHO is expected to convene to decide whether the outbreak should be classified as a public health emergency.

What to know

The Zika virus is thought to have reached Brazil last year and has now spread to 25 countries, mostly in the Americas but also to Indonesia, Thailand and Cape Verde.

Most people who get the virus suffer no symptoms, according to WHO. Others may exhibit low fever, rash, pink eye, headaches or joint pain that lasts about a week.

However, WHO added in a statement:

“Arrival of the virus in some countries of the Americas, notably Brazil, has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a poorly understood condition in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, sometimes resulting in paralysis.

A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects and neurological syndromes has not been established, but is strongly suspected.”

There is currently no vaccine or medicine currently available to cure the virus, and treatment is normally focused on relieving symptoms.

Last week, UAE officials said that because the virus cannot be transmitted from person-to-person, the risk of Zika spreading to the Gulf was low.

However, pregnant women in particular have been warned to avoid going to South America, and other travelers were told to use mosquito repellant, the National reported.


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