By Sola Ogundipe
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, has released a risk assessment of Zika virus infection for Nigeria. In the document, entitled “Public Health Risk Assessment of Zika Virus in Nigeria and Interim Recommendations”, the NCDC notes that the current epidemiology of Zika in Nigeria has not been well documented or understood due to paucity of recent data.
The document which contains a risk assessment of Zika virus infection for Nigeria, and recommendations to healthcare workers and the general public on how to protect themselves from the virus, observes that the virus shares a similar vector – the Aedes (Steogmyia) mosquitoes, also responsible for other flavivirus infections recorded in Nigeria such as such as yellow fever and dengue.
Stating its intention to carry out a nationwide surveillance to understand and monitor the epidemiology of Zika virus in Nigeria for appropriate interventions to be put in place, the NCDC says that the environmental and human behavioural risk factors in areas with reported Zika outbreaks are similar to those found in Nigeria and would thus favour the circulation of Zika.
According to the document: “Possible cross-reaction with other endemic flaviviruses like yellow fever and dengue; genetic host factors protecting against infection or disease; low vector competence and transmission efficiency; lack of diagnostic testing; and the absence of systematic surveillance are potential limitations to detect on-going transmission of Zika in Nigeria.”
To prevent Zika infection, the NCDC, in its recommendations to the general public, urges travelers to access up-to-date advice to on how to reduce the risk of becoming infected, including preventing mosquito bites and practicing safer sex from health care providers or public health authorities.
As part of its recommendations, the NCDC urges health care practitioners to ensure travelers are informed with up-to-date advice risk reduction and preventive measures before, during and after travel to areas with Zika transmission.
Further information can be obtained from the NCDC website: www.ncdc.org.ng