New Cases of Zika Virus Infection are Reported to WHO

On Jan. 18, 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for Haiti notified the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of five laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus infection. Of the five confirmed cases, four are from the Delmas commune while the remaining case is from the Pétion-Ville commune. Samples of the patient were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago for testing. All cases were confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Between Jan. 4 and Han. 12, 2016, the National IHR Focal Point for Germany notified PAHO/WHO of two cases of Zika virus infection in German nationals who had returned from Haiti to Germany in late December. Samples from both patients were collected and sent for laboratory testing to the national reference center for tropical diseases in Germany. While one of the cases was confirmed by both RT-PCR and serology, the other was confirmed only by serology.

On Jan, 16,  2016, the Ministry of Health of Bolivia, through its National IHR Focal Points (NFP), notified PAHO/WHO of the first laboratory-confirmed cases of locally-acquired Zika virus infection in the country. The case is a 32-year-old pregnant woman from Portachuelo, Santa Cruz Department, with onset of symptoms on Jan. 8. She has no recent history of travel. On Jan. 12, samples of the patient were sent to the National Center for Tropical Diseases for testing. On Jan. 14, the case was confirmed by polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) (viral genome detection).

Between Jan. 14 and 15, 2016, the National IHR Focal Points (NFP) for Guyana, Barbados and Ecuador notified PAHO/WHO of cases of Zika virus infection.

On Jan. 14, the NFP for Guyana reported the first laboratory-confirmed case of locally-acquired Zika virus infection in the country. The case is a 27-year-old female from Berbice, Region 6, with onset of symptoms on Jan. 1. Samples of the patient were collected on Jan. 4 and sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago for testing. The case was confirmed by polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) (viral genome detection).

On Jan. 15, the NFP for Barbados reported the first three laboratory-confirmed cases of locally-acquired Zika virus infection in the country. None of the cases had a history of travel. Samples of the patients were sent to the CARPHA laboratory for testing. The cases were confirmed by PCR (viral genome detection).

On Jan. 5, the NFP for Ecuador reported two laboratory-confirmed cases of locally-acquired Zika virus infection in the country. As of Jan. 16, a total number of six cases had been reported – two of the cases were locally-acquired while the remaining four cases were imported (three from Colombia and one from Venezuela).

Samples from all cases were collected and sent to the National Public Health and Research Institute in Guayaquil for laboratory testing. All cases tested positive by PCR (viral genome detection) for Zika virus and negative for dengue and chikungunya.

Health authorities are taking the following measures: intensifying surveillance activities, implementing vector control measures, and educating the public about the risks associated with Zika virus and encouraging them to take every precaution against mosquito bites.

The proximity of mosquito vector breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for Zika virus infection. Prevention and control relies on reducing the breeding of mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. This can be achieved by reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled habitats that support mosquito larvae, reducing the adult mosquito populations around at-risk communities and by using barriers such as insect screens, closed doors and windows, long clothing and repellents. Since the Aedes mosquitoes (the primary vector for transmission) are day-biting mosquitoes, it is recommended that those who sleep during the daytime, particularly young children, the sick or elderly, should rest under mosquito nets (bed nets), treated with or without insecticide to provide protection.

During outbreaks, space spraying of insecticides may be carried out following the technical orientation provided by WHO to kill flying mosquitoes. Suitable insecticides (recommended by the WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme) may also be used as larvicides to treat relatively large water containers, when this is technically indicated.

Basic precautions for protection from mosquito bites should be taken by people traveling to high risk areas, especially pregnant women. These include use of repellents, wearing light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

WHO does not recommend any travel or trade restriction to Haiti based on the current information available.

Source: WHO

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