- JOHN’S, Antigua – A week after health authorities confirmed the first case of the Zika virus in the country, a medical doctor has advised local women to put off getting pregnant, at least for the time being.
Director of the American University of Antigua (AUA) Health Centre Dr. Kimberly Mallin made the recommendation while she was a guest on Sunday’s Big Issues.
Mallin suggested pregnant women be tested twice for Zika and women thinking of becoming pregnant, or are of child-bearing age, could delay their plans until further notice.
“If you have a choice and have time, I would suggest delaying getting pregnant,” Mallin said and encouraged those who are already pregnant to visit their medical practitioners and request to be tested for the dreaded Zika virus.
“I believe you can get the blood drawn at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) and they send it off to either to Trinidad & Tobago or one of the other CARPHA labs. I would suggest that you get tested now and then again in the middle of the next trimester,” she said.
Further advice to pregnant women included to avoid being bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the virus, and to use a condom for the duration of the pregnancy in order to prevent the sexual transmission of Zika.
Coordinating Representative for the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Dr. Godfrey Xuereb, also contributed to the discussion.
He said that since Zika is mainly transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquito, a concentrated effort should be made to eliminate all breeding sites around the homes and communities on the island.
He also outlined that the same mosquito that transmits Zika, transmits diseases that are far more hazardous and problematic during pregnancy, namely Dengue fever and Chikungunya.
“Dengue is the most problematic of those and what we recommend to all women, who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant, as we recommend to everybody else, is to protect themselves against mosquitoes,” Xuereb said.
According to Dr Xuereb the Aedes aegypti mosquito has a flying circulation of about 500 metres.
The female is the only one that bites as it needs blood to produce eggs to continue breeding. It usually bites its victim in the early morning and around sunset.