St. Kitts-Nevis Records First Case Of Zika Virus

St. Kitts-Nevis has recorded its first case of the mosquito-borne Zika virus joining 46 other Caribbean and Latin American countries affected by the disease.

The Ministry of Health said that it had received confirmation from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) that three serum samples tested on September 11, have been positive for the ZIKA virus.

“These positive results are therefore the Federation’s first confirmed cases of ZIKA in the local population,” the Ministry said, noting that while the samples had been sent to CARPHA at the end of August, it only received confirmation on September 15 “largely due to the CARICOM laboratory’s inundation with over 1,300 ZIKA test requests within the last three weeks”.

The Ministry of Health said it had informed the three patients about the results and urged the public in general not to panic as a result.

“The public is reminded that the ZIKA virus is generally considered to be a mild illness with up to 80 per cent of affected persons not showing any symptoms. Symptoms include fever, rash, and body aches and pains.

“In rare cases, the virus has been known to cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) which affects the body’s peripheral nervous system. ZIKA has also been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as having causal association with microcephaly in new-borns-(children born with abnormally small heads – at a very low rate of less than 0.3 per cent % of cases,” the statement added.

It said as a result of the confirmation of the cases, the Environmental Health Department within the Ministry of Health will be sustaining and, in some cases, accelerating its vector control measures.

“The public is strongly encouraged to support the work of the Environmental Health Department by ensuring that every effort is made to destroy mosquito breeding sites around their homes, yards and businesses, to use safe insect repellant …when outdoors, to stay indoors whenever possible, and to wear long-sleeved clothing when outdoors.”

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