DPHSS Working with Military and other Partners in Preparation for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts

For Immediate Release

March 4, 2016;11:15am

DPHSS Release No. 2016-014

DPHSS Working with Military and other Partners in Preparation for the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts

With the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts closely approaching and in light of the thousands of people who are anticipated to attend Festpac, the Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) is working closely with key govguam agencies and federal partners are working to ensure that DPHSS is prepared and ready.  Our military partners are also actively engaged with DPHSS in preventive procedures, from mosquito trapping and testing, to education and awareness.  Together we are working tirelessly to ensure we are always prepared for any outbreaks of diseases on the island.  This includes mosquito borne diseases such as Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. 

Mosquito borne diseases are not new to this region.  Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas.  Yap also had a Zika outbreak in 2007.  It took doctors there some time to recognize, partly because it is similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses.  Only one of five people infected with the virus develop symptoms, which can include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Those infected usually do not have to be hospitalized.

Zika symptoms are relatively mild.  There is no commercially available test for Zika infection.  To detect Zika, a blood or tissue sample from the first week in the infection must be sent to a reference laboratory so the virus can be detected through sophisticated molecular testing.  In the event there are any suspect Zika cases on Guam, specimens will be sent to the Hawaii State Laboratory Division for testing. 

Hawaii’s recent declaration of a State of Emergency was a result of a dengue outbreak.  Hawaii’s emergency declaration relates to all mosquito borne diseases, with concerns that the mosquitos can potentially spread Zika and Chikungunya. 

In preparation for Festpac, each delegation is asked to ensure members avoid travel if they are ill.  Several committees are currently working closely to assure that the risk to both participants and Guam residents from Zika and other communicable diseases are minimized during Festpac. 

Since Zika is spread by mosquito bites, the best way for Guam residents to protect themselves by doing the following:

  • Cleaning up all debris, especially those that can hold water;

  • Disposing loose tires;

  • Cleaning pet water dishes regularly;

  • Cleaning, emptying, and properly screening or covering containers used to store water;

  • Clearing roof gutters of debris;

  • Properly disposing all bottles, cans, buckets, and other containers that can collect water;

  • Plugging tree holes;

  • Repairing leaky outdoor faucets so as not to create standing water; and

  • Changing the water frequently in flower vases and other containers that routinely contain water.

  • Use mosquito repellent when outdoors

    Information about mosquito borne diseases can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/index.html

    Zika is also spread by sexual transmission.  Please visit the CDC website for more information on Zika and Sexual Transmission http://www.cdc.gov/zika/transmission/sexual-transmission.html

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