The airwaves in El Salvador are currently filled with government public service announcements on how to control mosquito-borne diseases. And for good reason. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes in El Salvador include Chikungunya, dengue and now the Zika virus.
Chikungunya and dengue infect tens of thousands of Salvadorans each year, and Zika is spreading quickly. According to an article in La Prensa Grafica today, the country's social security health system (ISSS) treated more than 60,000 people in 2015 and the beginning of 2016 for Chikungunya, dengue and Zika. This would be only a portion of the population suffering form these diseases, since ISSS covers only those person with formal employment. Almost 40,000 persons were treated for chikunguya and 14,000 for dengue.
The new arrival in El Salvador is the Zika virus, which is spreading in many countries in Latin America. 4590 patients were treated by ISSS for Zika in 2015, and already 2300 in the first 16 days of 2016.
From a New York Times article on the spread of Zika in the Americas:
For most people, the Zika infection is not particularly serious. According to the C.D.C., only about 20 percent of infected people have any symptoms at all, and the few who become sick usually have a mild fever, sometimes diarrhea or a rash, headache or muscle pain. The illness goes away within a week, and rarely requires hospitalization. Rest, pain medication and hydration are the only treatments, and there is no cure or vaccine. There has never been a death attributed to the Zika virus, according to the C.D.C.
Still, there are significant dangers for pregnant women because the virus has been linked to congenital microcephaly, a serious and often fatal birth defect in which the fetal brain fails to develop properly.The CDC issued recommendations related to travel to Zika infection areas for women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant.
CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):* Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.* If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- Women who are trying to become pregnant:* Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
* Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
VOX also offers this background piece on Zika.
Government efforts in El Salvador to control the mosquitoes which carry these diseases primarily include fumigation of areas where mosquitoes are present and efforts to educate the population about reducing the presence of standing water where the mosquitoes breed. Individual steps to avoid infection should include wearing long pants and long sleeves and using mosquito repellent.