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Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health is advising medical practitioners to send blood samples of pregnant women with suspected symptoms of the Zika Virus to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) for testing.
  • Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, announced earlier this month that all pregnant women will be tested for Zika.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised women living in areas where Zika transmission is ongoing to consider delaying pregnancy.

The Ministry of Health is advising medical practitioners to send blood samples of pregnant women with suspected symptoms of the Zika Virus to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) for testing.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry, Dr. Winston De La Haye, said that the test is free of cost to the patient.  He was speaking in a recent interview with JIS News.

For pregnant women who contract Zika there is an increased risk of the foetus developing microcephaly. This is an abnormal smallness of the head, which is associated with incomplete brain development.

Health Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, announced earlier this month that all pregnant women will be tested for Zika.

He said that those who test positive for the mosquito-borne illness will be monitored throughout their pregnancy.

Dr. De La Haye told JIS News that vulnerability of the unborn child “is at its highest the younger the pregnancy”.

He noted that the symptoms of Zika are usually mild and treatment is symptomatic, meaning that therapy is provided to ease the symptoms without addressing the basic cause of the disease.

He told JIS News that pregnant women with Zika will be followed up in ‘high risk’ clinics. “There will also be more frequent ultrasonography throughout the pregnancy,” he informed.

Dr. De La Haye said that final measurement of head circumference to test for microcephaly is done at the birth of the child.

Meanwhile, approximately 20,000 bed nets will be provided over the next six months to all pregnant women who visit antenatal clinics across the island.  The nets are being supplied by charity organisation Food For The Poor.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised women living in areas where Zika transmission is ongoing to consider delaying pregnancy.