Three more Zika cases confirmed
The Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed three additional cases of Zika virus (ZIKV) infection, bringing to four the number of affected persons in Jamaica to date. Two of the infected persons are from Christian Pen and Greater Portmore, St Catherine, while the other is from Lyssons, St Thomas.
A 20-year-old woman from Greater Portmore and a 12-year-old boy from St Thomas are among the cases confirmed by the National Virology Reference Laboratory at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Mona. The other was from a sample sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
The first case of the Zika virus infection was identified in Greater Portmore on January 29, a four-year-old boy who the health ministry said had been infected while visiting the state of Texas in the United States. However, acting chief medical officer Dr Winston De La Haye told the press conference at the ministry's New Kingston office that indications are that all the recent cases are local transmissions.
GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global public-health emergency, posing greater risk to infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions. Among the complications that can occur are birth defects in newborns, paralysis, neurological and autoimmune disorders, and death.
ZIKV is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected mosquitoes of the Aedes species, particularly the Aedes aegypti, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya. It can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse and blood transfusions. There is no treatment for the virus, only the symptoms associated with it.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton used the occasion to reiterate the importance of every Jamaican taking seriously his personal responsibility in helping to reduce the number of mosquito-breeding sites across Jamaica.
He vowed to lead the charge for a more coordinated regional approach in order to develop a more standardised approach to dealing with such diseases within the Caribbean, an initiative the health minister said would of necessity also include some of the country's other trading partners.