Suspected Cases of Zika Virus Must be Reported

Photo: Yhomo Hutchinson Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley (right), addressing today’s (February 2) press briefing regarding Jamaica’s zika virus preparedness and response at the Office of the Prime Minister, in Kingston. Others (from left) are: Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott and Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer.

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health is reminding private practitioners and laboratories that suspected cases of the Zika Virus (ZikV) must be reported to the Ministry within 24 hours.
  • ZikV is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in and around areas where people live, work and play.
  • Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston Delahaye, is encouraging persons to visit their nearest medical facility if they are experiencing symptoms which may appear to be that of the Zika virus.

The Ministry of Health is reminding private practitioners and laboratories that suspected cases of the Zika Virus (ZikV) must be reported to the Ministry within 24 hours.

Speaking at a press conference, today (February 2), Portfolio Minister, Hon. Horace Dalley, informed that under the Public Health Act,  ZikV is a class one notifiable disease, which means it must be reported within 24 hours on suspicion.

The press conference was held at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston.

ZikV is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is found in and around areas where people live, work and play.

For his part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Kevin Harvey, said the reporting of suspected cases is crucial as the Ministry will be able to “follow up, and confirm any case.”

“The speculations don’t help. It doesn’t make sense for you to say that you may have it…or whatever it is, if we cannot get the samples to test, we will not be able to determine the specific persons who are infected and do the necessary interventions. So, we need everybody on board for this one and a cohesive response,” he said.

ZikV is from the same family of viruses as Dengue and Chikungunya, and share similar symptoms, which include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe illness requiring hospitalisation is uncommon.

In the meantime, the Minister informed that approximately 27 suspected samples of ZikV have been sent to the Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory for testing.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston Delahaye, is encouraging persons to visit their nearest medical facility if they are experiencing symptoms which may appear to be that of the Zika virus.

The first case of the Zika virus was confirmed in Jamaica last week. The patient, who has now recovered, is a four-year old child from Portmore, St. Catherine.

Jamaica is among 25 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean Region that have confirmed Zika cases.

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