Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, Khaled Megahed said Egypt is already taking preventative measures against a possible outbreak of the Zika virus in Egypt, in a phone interview with Daily News Egypt.
According to Megahed, the ministry is working on securing two aspects: “Firstly, we must secure all ports and airports by screening and moving any individuals who may have come in contact with the virus into quarantine. Secondly, we must test mosquitoes and carefully monitor the spread of the virus,” he said.
“These preventative measures already existed in Egypt before the state of emergency was declared,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared virus Zika a public health emergency of international concern on Monday, in an official statement, after a teleconference meeting with 18 health experts.
“At present, the most important protective measures are the control of mosquito populations and the prevention of mosquito bites for at-risk individuals, especially pregnant women,” the statement read.
The experts agreed in the statement that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly (a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development) is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven. However, WHO calls for the urgent need to coordinate international efforts to investigate and better understand this relationship.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced on Sunday its collaboration with WHO as it closely monitors the virus outbreak in order to avoid its spread in Egypt.
The virus originally appeared in Uganda, but has now spread to many Latin American countries; it was detected in thousands of pregnant Colombian women.
According to a WHO fact sheet, the virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
In Egypt, the Ministry of Health officially denies any spread of the virus. However, the chief of the preventative medicine unit at the ministry, Amr Kandil, reportedly acknowledged the existence of this mosquito in some Egyptian governorates, but he said that the virus is not present.
Primary symptoms of the Zika virus are usually mild fever, a skin rash and conjunctivitis, lasting between two to seven days. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine available, but the best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.