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The Ministry of Health has advised pregnant women and women of child-bearing age to be especially careful as the rainy season progresses and to take all necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

In a statement released today, it warned that pregnant women could be infected with the Zika virus at any stage of pregnancy. Infection with the Zika virus has been associated with microcephaly, a birth defect in babies in which the head circumference is smaller than normal.

Women who are pregnant and experiencing any of the symptoms of Zika – fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red eye), headache and temporary arthritis, mainly in the small joints of the hands and feet – are advised to contact their doctor as soon as possible for testing.

To avoid exposure to mosquito bites, the Ministry recommends wearing long- sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors, especially in the early morning and late afternoon. They are also advised to use mosquito repellant containing DEET and sleep under a bed net.

Preventative measures such as eliminating collections of stagnant water from around the home and workplace should also be implemented.

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