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Story Highlights

  • The Health Ministry will enter the second phase of its public health response to the Zika virus (ZikV), which will target pregnant women and their partners, and persons who develop severe conditions such as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
  • Sixteen samples tested positive for the Zika virus, with two pregnant women confirmed with the disease.
  • The Minister assured that there is adequate medication available to treat all forms of Zika manifestation.

The Health Ministry will enter the second phase of its public health response to the Zika virus (ZikV), which will target pregnant women and their partners, and persons who develop severe conditions such as GuillainBarré Syndrome (GBS).

Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, made the announcement at a press conference held at the Ministry in New Kingston on June 2.

“As you know, the unborn child is at high risk of developing microcephaly once the woman has been infected with the Zika virus while pregnant. We will continue to monitor pregnant women at the community level throughout their pregnancies, including providing them with educational support,” he said.

Microcephaly is an abnormal smallness of the head, which is associated with incomplete brain development.

Minister Tufton informed that 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.

Phase one of the Ministry’s public health response, known as ‘Operation: Mosquito Search and Destroy’, was initiated in February and involved community cleanups.

Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton informed that 1, 969 notifications for Zika have been reported to the Ministry as of May 29.

Of the notifications, 1, 387 fit the case definition for Zika and were classified as “suspected Zika fever”.

“We have received the highest number of notifications from Kingston and St. Andrew at 465, followed by St. Catherine at 405,” Minister Tufton informed.

Sixteen samples tested positive for the Zika virus, with two pregnant women confirmed with the disease.

The Minister noted that all patients confirmed with Zika have fully recovered and the pregnant women will be closely monitored.

As it relates to GBS, Dr. Tufton noted that the Ministry has been preparing the sector for any increase in the illnesses likely triggered by the Zika virus.

“The health practitioners in the public and private sector have been informed and clinical guidelines have been provided and are available on our website,” he said.

GBS is an illness of the nervous system, which causes damage to the nerve cells, muscle weakness and sometimes, paralysis.

The Minister assured that there is adequate medication available to treat all forms of Zika manifestation.

He reminded persons to safeguard their health by protecting themselves from mosquito bites and reducing breeding sites for the vector.