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Is Zika Already in Belize? Health Officials Monitor Situation

The Ministry of Health this past weekend conducted a field investigation based on the reported case of Zika by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and based on the provisional data they provided.
The field investigation revealed two local potential cases, one in the Stann Creek District and the other in the Toledo District. A person of interest was also identified from the Cayo District. Samples were taken from the persons in the southern districts and will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) today, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, for testing. CARPHA is Belize’s Regional Referral Laboratory in Trinidad.

On April 6, 2016, Ministry of Health officials received a communication message from the United States International Health Regulations National Focal Point regarding a confirmed case of Zika detected in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the transmission may have originated in Belize. The CDC reported that, “The patient is an adult female resident who travelled to Belize from 14 -19 March 2016. She had onset of fever and rash on 23 March, 2016. Zika virus RT-PCR was positive on serum at the health department of the state. The patient reported no other recent travel history and there was no evidence of possible sexual transmission.”

The investigation into these potential cases continues in order to determine the potential source(s). Although new and compelling factors may indicate the presence of Zika, the Ministry is still not able to declare that there is a first local transmission case of Zika in Belize.

All Regional Health Management teams have been debriefed and the Zika plan for Belize continues to be implemented and is now moving into a new phase as the Ministry continues to learn more of the situation.

The Ministry continues to implore the community to take measures to minimize the breeding sites and population of mosquitoes that primarily transmit the disease. Pregnant women and women considering getting pregnant are especially asked to take precautions and try to avoid mosquito bites. Pregnant women are also encouraged to attend regular prenatal clinics in order to monitor their health and their baby’s development.

The investigating team includes persons from the Vector Control Unit, Public Health and Epidemiology Departments. The office of the Director of Health Services continues to spearhead all efforts they move towards further documentation of any potential cases. The Ministry of Health says that it will require the assistance of every person and community in trying to mitigate the potential impact of Zika in Belize.

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