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New efforts in battle against Zika cause community impact

By on September 3, 2016

SAN JUAN – The director of the State Agency for Emergency and Disaster Management (Aemead by its Spanish initials) and the chief of the Puerto Rico Firefighters Corps, Ángel Crespo, assured they are continuing the plan by various municipal agencies to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus.

In a press conference at Fortaleza, Crespo said government efforts have managed to cover more than half the island’s municipalities. 

the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the main transmitter of the Zika virus. (Jeff Miller / UW-Madison via AP)

An Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Jeff Miller / UW-Madison via AP)

“Since the public emergency declaration was made in Puerto Rico, we have been working on an integrated plan where multiple agencies have coordinated various efforts. We have impacted communities throughout 45 of the 78 municipalities in all of Puerto Rico. We have managed to reach about 40,000 citizens directly, house by house,” he said.

Crespo noted that Barceloneta, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Cataño, Coamo, Fajardo, Guayama, Patillas, Ponce, Río Grande, Salinas, Toa Alta, Trujillo Alto, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, among other municipalities have been impacted.

 The fire chief said Guayanilla, Peñuelas and Villalba, along with other southern municipalities will be addressed next week.

“Part of what happens now is that through this type of coordination we receive information more fluently at the places where there is a majority of cases, which allows us to make more targeted plans for the places where it is needed most,” he explained.

“We have also organized some 50,000 volunteers throughout the island from organizations such as the Hospitals Association and the Lion’s Club, among others, so that…we continue creating culture between people and handing out Zika-prevention kits.”

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Ana Ríus Armendáriz revealed data about the 33th week after the public emergency declaration on the island.

“This is the 33th week of monitoring the Zika virus emergency in Puerto Rico and we have 2,203 new reported cases, for a total of 16,537. We also have 140 pregnant women who tested positive with Zika for a total of 1,384. In addition, we have 12 reported hospitalizations for a total of 132. Two cases of Guillain Barré syndrome for a total of 42 cases,” the Health official said.

Ríus Armendáriz reported the death of a 66-year-old who tested positive for Zika, although the secretary dismissed the possibility that the death was directly caused by Zika.

“A death from a bacterial infection from leptospirosis was reported, but in the tests that were administered he also tested positive for Zika. The leptospirosis is caused by rat urine but, I repeat, the person did not die of Zika,” she stressed.

The Health Secretary insisted that the population should not lower their guard in the face of the propagation of the epidemic and to continue taking precautionary measures to avoid contagion.

“Nothing substitutes prevention. The use of repellent and adequate clothing, avoiding mosquito nests, using larvicide, mosquito screens and maintaining a clean and fresh household, all pregnant women should protect themselves when they are having sexual relationships during the gestation period. Our mission is to protect our pregnant women, control the vector and make the use of contraceptives accessible to the population in reproductive age,” the secretary explained.

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