MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) urged the public on Thursday to participate in activities geared towards cleanliness in order to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases such as the ‘Zika virus’.

“What is very important–regardless if there is Zika virus or not– is to be a part in cleanliness activities of our country such as searching and destroying the breeding places of mosquitoes,” said DOH spokesperson Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy.

Lee Suy that if the environment is clean, there will be no breeding ground for mosquitoes which are carriers of the viruses causing deadly diseases such as Zika fever, dengue and chikungunya.

He reminded that eliminating disease-carrying mosquitoes should be everyone’s concern.

The DOH made the statement in line with efforts to keep the country ‘Zika virus free’ following the emergence of cases of the disease in various countries.

According to Lee Suy, it was in 2012 when the DOH reported a case of the disease in Cebu City.

At present, he clarified that there is still no new case of Zika virus infection in the country.

“At present, no case of (Zika virus) yet in the country was recorded,” he added.

Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in the 1940s and is now currently spreading in Latin America.

The disease has been causing alarm in Latin America and has put pregnant women at risk due to the microcephaly (brain damage) that it may bring to babies.

Microcephaly is a rare neurological condition in which an infant’s head is significantly smaller than the heads of other children of the same age and sex.

The said condition usually results to the underdevelopment of a baby’s brain inside the mother’s womb, hampering its growth after birth.

Microcephaly can be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors.

While the Zika virus infection is connected to microcephaly among newborn babies of a mother infected by disease-carrying mosquitoes, the said information isn’t officially documented yet.

“Of course any pregnant women would not want that (microcephaly) to happen to their own child as well, so, the best way really is as much as possible if someone is pregnant just avoid travelling in places where there are incidence of Zica virus as a protective measure,” he added.

He added that during a close examination of profiles of the patients from other countries infected with Zika virus ,they found out that the condition is not really severe and can still be treated.

The symptoms of the disease include are fever, headache, joint pains and rashes.

As compared to the effects of dengue, the DOH spokesperson said that ZiKa virus is relatively mild and has a lower mortality rate.

“But it should not be disregarded also because as long as there are still mosquitoes around that can become potential source of transmission if ever,” he explained.

He added that while there should be definitely no room for complacency, it is important for the public to remain calm and refrain from exaggerating the situation.

“The point here is we should be always prepared…and follow the call of the government for concerted actions of keeping the environment clean,” he said as he emphasized that behavior change should be enhanced every now and then in order to be protected from any new diseases,” Lee Suy noted. Leilani Junio/PNA/