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Zika virus controversy

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, July 6
Deputy Head of the National Disease Control Center Paata Imnadze claims there is no chance of an outbreak of the Zika Virus in Georgia.

He stated this after putting special Gambusia fish in a lake in Tbilisi, an initiative of the Ministry of Environment, which is aimed at preventing a Zika outbreak as the fish would eat the mosquitos which spread the virus.

“People can be calm. There is no risk of spreading the Zika virus. The fish put in Turtle Lake are focused on mosquitos which are carrying malaria. We have detected several mosquitos which can spread Zika only in the coastal areas of the country, never in any other part of Georgia,” Imnadze said.

However, Minister of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia, Davit Sergeenko said: “Putting the fish in the lake is not connected to the Zika virus. This type of fish, Gambusia is for destroying Anopheles type mosquitos which spreads Malaria. But there is no reason to panic about any Zika outbreak,” stated Sergeenko.

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

People usually do not become sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

The Zika virus infection poses major threats to pregnant women as it can cause serious birth defects such as microcephaly, as well as other severe foetal brain defects.

Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely be immunized from future infections.

If there is no infected individual, the mosquito cannot spread the virus as it must initially bite an infected individual.

No Zika cases have been reported in Georgia.