WHO says risk of Zika virus spreading in Europe ‘low to moderate’

Risk of spread of Zika virus in Europe in the coming months considered low to moderate according to WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified Malta at moderate risk of the Zika virus spreading as temperatures increase, making mosquitoes increase.

WHO has alerted countries around the world to step up their efforts to prevent the spread of the mosquito spread virus, which is also being linked to developmental problems like microcephaly in newborn infants.

The government has also issued a statement explaining that health authorities are stepping their efforts by ensuring that any breeding sites are controlled, as well as monitoring and surveillance for the vectors of the virus (the aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquitos), as well as encouraging people to heed to the advice provided for travellers and measures which can be taken in households. 

“The health authorities in Malta have stepped up their preparedness to Zika alert since the start of the outbreak in affected areas earlier this year,” the statement reads, adding that an inter-ministerial committee was set up to coordinate actions in February.

The statement points out that actions taken so far include advice to travellers, measures to control vector breeding sites and vector surveillance.

“Advice to returning travellers is ongoing and people who return from endemic areas and have symptoms are being tested, with the Zika test being made available at Mater Dei Hospital.”

Local authorities have also done their best to offer advice to travellers going to endemic areas, regarding prevention of mosquito bites, particularly to women who are pregnant of planning to get pregnant.

“Measures to control vector breeding sites include mapping of breeding sites in the community and advice to entities for reducing the density of mosquitoes, and the general public was also informed on measures to prevent breeding sites in their households.”

Vector surveillance was set up in collaboration with university of Malta to monitor mosquitoes, as the aedes albopictus is one of the vectors that can be found in Malta.

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