The Department of Health has advised the public, especially pregnant women, to seek immediate medical help should they experience symptoms of Zika virus infection, dengue or any similar illnesses.
“Whether it be Zika or dengue or any other form [of mosquito-borne diseases], consult a doctor, especially if pregnant,” said department spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy in an interview.
Lee Suy said seeking medical help is important for pregnant women in order for them to protect themselves and the babies in their wombs.
He also advised the public to refrain from self-medicating if they suspect infection.
“We should not self-medicate because this may only worsen our condition, thus making the cost of medication more expensive,” he added.
Lee Suy also called on the public to clean up areas where aedes mosquitoes may live and breed, to prevent the spread of Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses.
He said that while the current outbreak of the Zika virus has not yet reached the Philippines, it is important to be pro-active in keeping the environment clean.
Lee Suy emphasized that community clean-up activities will help eliminate not only the threat of Zika virus but also of other mosquito-borne diseases.
He also reminded people to guard against mosquito bites two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset, when aedes mosquitoes often strike.
In terms of severity, the symptoms of Zika are more serious compared to dengue. These include rashes, fever, conjunctivitis (redness of the eyes) and other influenza-like signs.
However, the DoH said that Zika virus has a lower mortality rate compared to dengue.
What is alarming about the Zika virus is its capability to cause microcephaly among babies born from infected women, he explained.
Babies suffering from microcephaly have small brains and shorter lives.
Meanwhile, international airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminals have started spraying broad-spectrum disinfectant cleaner, virucides, anti-microbials and sanitizers inside their aircraft amid concerns over the spread of the Zika virus.
The airlines were responding to the call of health authorities to ensure the safety of the public.
But quarantine officers assigned at the airport said that the public should not worry about mosquitos carrying the Zika virus because they will not live long enough to make the trip to Manila.
No Zika cases have been reported in the Philippines since 2012, when a 15-year-old boy was reportedly infected in Cebu City.
The boy recovered fully, according to health department spokesman Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy.
Meanwhile, senatorial candidate and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Sunday urged local government units and health officials to aggressively disseminate information and to put in place the necessary measures against the Zika virus, considered the largest global public health crisis since Ebola affected eastern Africa in 2014.
“The vital information about the virus must be disseminated regularly. The public must be reminded about the risks. Ignoring them could trigger serious problems,” he said.
According to Romualdez, House independent bloc leader and Philippine Constitution Association president, the Department of Health must closely coordinate with local governments and the public to fight the Zika virus.
“The government can’t do it alone. This battle against the Zika virus needs the cooperation of each and every Filipino family,” he said.
“We should not be caught flat-footed by this deadly disease,” Romualdez said.