NARITA, CHIBA PREF. – Airports across Japan, including Narita International Airport, have strengthened quarantine measures to counter the Zika virus that is spreading quickly throughout Latin America.
After the mosquito-borne illness was designated by the Japanese government Monday as a Type 4 infectious disease, requiring doctors to report any case of infection to authorities, airport operators stepped up their warnings to people arriving from Latin America and those departing for the region.
According to Narita quarantine officials, the Zika virus causes only slight fever. Therefore, people with the virus tend to go undetected by thermographic screenings. People who suspect they may be infected need to notify the authorities themselves, the office said.
As blood tests for Zika fever can now be carried out at airport quarantine stations under the Quarantine Act, the Narita quarantine office is advising travelers to consult with the office on any concerns about the disease.
“It is most important that people are not bitten by mosquitoes,” a member of the quarantine office said. The office is urging people to carry insect repellent when visiting Latin America and wear long-sleeved shirts when staying in the Southern Hemisphere during the summer.
While it only causes mild flu-like symptoms in most people, Zika is strongly suspected of causing a rapid rise in the number of children born with microcephaly — a congenital condition that is characterized by abnormally small heads and brains.
Brazil has been most affected by the outbreak that has spread rapidly through Latin America and the Caribbean, with 1.5 million cases reported since early 2015.