Zika Virus Advice

Zika Virus Advice

The Maltese Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate has issued advice regarding controlling the spread of Zika Virus.

Zika Virus Explained

The international situation regarding Zika infection is spreading with more countries being affected. There have been no cases of Zika which were infected in Europe and in Malta there has been only one imported case, which was isolated as per international guidelines.

One of the main measures for control is to control mosquito breeding sites. The general public is being encouraged to take measures in their homes to prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes.

All larval stages of mosquitoes need water in order to proliferate. Each female mosquito may lay as many as 200 eggs that will transform into larvae, and then into mosquitoes after approximately 10 – 12 days. The control of this mosquito is based on controlling the places where they lay their eggs which are close to where people are being bitten.

Recommendations include:

  • Remove any water-filled container like flower plates, old buckets, food containers and tires;
  • Any puddles, inlets to showers and drainage systems should be drained not to allow water to stagnate for more than 3 days, or treated with chlorine;
  • Gutters should be kept clean of fallen leaves and other debris so that water does not collect in them;
  • Man-made outdoor water features, especially fish ponds may contain fish and/or grasshoppers as these are known to feed on the mosquito’s immature stages;
  • Any standing water in pools, catchment basins, etc, that cannot be drained or dumped can be periodically treated with properly labelled insecticide;
  • Maintenance of swimming pools: Keep empty if not in use or regularly maintained with chlorine;
  • Water tanks, wells and reservoirs are to be kept covered.

It is important to prevent being bitten by taking these measures:

  • Be sure door and window screens fit tightly and are in good state;
  • Wear socks, shoes, long trousers sand a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, and when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin;
  • Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure, and to protect infants when outdoors;
  • When it is necessary to be outdoors, insect repellent should be applied regularly as indicated on the product’s label. Insect repellents containing DEET are recommended for adults and children over 3 months of age;
  • Use fans – mosquitoes are weak fliers and a strong wind produced by a fan not only keeps them from flying but diffuses chemical cues they use to locate blood meals.

People travelling to affected areas are reminded to take such necessary precautions to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. For more information, one may contact the helpline on 21324086.