THE Ministry of Health has advised Basotho who travelled to the recently-ended 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro?, Brazil to continue observing health precautions to protect their families and the general public against possible infection by the Zika Virus.
Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedesaegypti in tropical regions. There was an outbreak of the disease in Brazil last year which is also sexually-transmitted.
A delegation of 21 Basotho including eight athletes made their way to the Rio Games which were held from 5 August to 21 August 2016. Like other countries, the government devised medical procedures the group had to comply with upon their return including testing and health advice to either abstain or engage in protected sex.
Ministry of Health International Health Regulations (IHR) Manager Khotso Mahomo told the Sunday Express this past week the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Zika outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February as evidence grew the virus can cause birth defects as well as neurological problems.
He said that while tests done on the athletes in South Africa and upon their arrival at Moshoeshoe I International Airport gave them a clean bill of health; they still had to follow the health and safety procedures for at least eight weeks after their return.
“After these procedures (testing) we advised the group to be on the safe side they must abstain from sex for a period of eight weeks or use protection,” Mr Mahomo said.
The virus is said to survive longer in the sperms of carriers. Other modes of transmission are: blood transfusion, urine, amniotic fluids, saliva, and cerebro-spinal fluids.