Belize confirms near 50 cases of Zika virus

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito that transmits the Zika virus (Photo courtesy flickr.com)

BELMOPAN, Belize, Sept 28, CMC – At least six pregnant women are among the 46 confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus, health authorities here have confirmed.

The Ministry of Health said it is working with the pregnant women and those expecting to get pregnant in order to deal with possible cases of microcephaly, the abnormal smallness of the head due to incomplete brain development that normally affects babies.

The Surveillance Officer at the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, Lorna Perez, said there are 593 suspected cases of Zika.

“Of these 305 have actually been screened which means a blood sample or a urine sample has been collected from these persons which represents 52.5 per cent of all suspected cases being screened.

“Of these 305 tests that have been done, we’ve received 177 results, which represents 58 per cent of all samples taken which means we are still pending some results. Of this 177 now, we have 46 positive, which is 26 per cent. So far we have that as our positivity rate,” she said.

The authorities said three of the pregnant women have already given birth and the babies so far have not exhibited any conditions of microcephaly or other malformations.

Maternal and Child Health Adviser, Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer, said the surveillance of the effects of exposed infants have now expanded to not only microcephaly, but to other congenital malformations related to zika such as genitourinary, cardiac and digestive systems, hearing and visual abnormalities.

“The scope of the syndrome will expand as further information and longer follow-up of affected children becomes available. There is no treatment, there is no vaccine against zika virus. A lot of the preventative measures that are being recommended can be applied to women that are not pregnant and women during pregnancy,” she added.

The Ministry of Finance said it has approved insect repellants and insecticide bed nets that are being distributed free of cost through the various health facilities.

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