Muscat: Pregnant women should avoid visiting Zika-affected countries, Oman’s minister of health said on Sunday.
“I urge all the pregnant women in Oman to seek medical advice if they have recently travelled to countries from where active Zika virus transmission cases are being reported,” Dr Ahmed Al Saidi, the Minister of Health, said.
While there are no cases reported in the MENA region so far, Dr Ahmed Al Saidi said Oman, however, is fully prepared to deal with any epidemic virus cases, including that of Zika.
“We are fully prepared,” he told the media on the sidelines of a conference on Sunday.
The virus, carried by mosquitoes, has been recently active across the Caribbean and Latin America countries.
Doctors at the private hospitals also said citizens and residents should not visit Zika-hit countries unless it becomes absolutely necessary.
“People visiting these countries, if it is too necessary, should take adequate precautions to prevent any types of mosquito bites and should protect themselves by using insect repellents and wearing long sleeves and using mosquito nets,” said Dr V.C.P. Mohammed, specialist in Internal Medicine at Atlas Hospital, Ruwi.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus, thought to cause a birth defect where the brain does not develop properly, has been rampaging through the Caribbean and Latin America.
“It is a new virus, so people should take as much precaution as possible,” Mohammed said.
Zika virus is common in parts of Africa and South East Asia, but since 2007, there have been various outbreaks outside Africa and South East Asian countries.
“Under these circumstances, people should avoid travelling and if you have already booked your tickets, then you should reconsider your travel plans to areas where the outbreak has been reported,” opined another expert.
Zika, which causes symptoms including rashes, fever, conjunctivitis and headache, has now been linked to birth defects in children born to mothers infected while they are pregnant.
“If you have just returned from Latin American countries and if you experience similar symptoms, then people should consult the doctors immediately,” experts said.
Zika is transmitted through bites from the same kind of mosquitoes that can spread other tropical diseases, like dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever.