Zika still a cause for concern – health officials

Barbados recorded 289 cases of gastroenteritis and 333 cases of fever and respiratory illness during the first three months of the year, the Ministry of Health has reported.

In its latest update on communicable diseases, the Ministry also revealed that there were 705 suspected cases of Zika between early 2015 when the outbreak started and April 1 this year. The majority of these cases were recorded last year, with 16 so far in 2017.

Confirmed cases of Zika number 150, with three occurring in 2015, 144 last year and three so far this year. The total number of pregnant women diagnosed with the virus stands at 32.

The Ministry further disclosed that there was one confirmed case and two probable cases of Zika-associated congenital syndrome in 2016. Additionally, there were five cases of Guillain Barre Syndrome, a neurological condition, which might have been associated with Zika.

“The global risk assessment for the Zika virus remains unchanged and vigilance needs to remain high,” the Ministry addded in a statement issued this evening by the Barbados Government Information Service.

The statement urged Barbadians to continue to check their premises weekly for possible mosquito breeding sites and to cover water containers such as buckets and drums, or dispose of them in a proper manner.

Pregnant women are reminded to be especially careful to protect themselves from mosquito bites as the Zika infection may be passed on to the developing infant. Since the infection can also be sexually transmitted, pregnant women are also advised to practise safer sex or abstinence during the entire pregnancy.

More information on how to handle vector control issues may be obtained by calling the Ministry’s Help Line at 467-9500.

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