(CNS): With some 50 countries in the region dealing with outbreaks of Zika, over 40 of them for the first time, the rapid spread of this outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus has still not impacted Cayman. While public health officials keep warning that it is very likely that we will see cases in the Cayman Islands, given the transient nature of the population, so far the country is keeping the disease at bay. The acting medical officer of health, Dr Samuel Williams Rodriguez, said that as of Monday, 25 April, there were no reported or confirmed cases of the virus here, but he reminded the public that dengue fever and the chikungunya virus are also still circulating within the Caribbean region and Cayman has this month recorded its first imported case of dengue for this year.
“As we have the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Cayman Islands, which is the vector involved in the spread of dengue fever … we do have potential for transmission if a returning resident or a visitor has the dengue virus,” said Dr Rodriguez. Since January 2016, 27 patients have been tested for Zika, chikungunya and dengue.
Dr Bill Petrie, Director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), urged people to prevent the accumulation of standing water in their years as although the MRCU is continuing its work to keep mosquito levels down the Aedes aegypti breeds very close to where humans lives, typically in pots buckets, cans and containers or anything that holds standing water in gardens and yards in urban areas.
“While we are still thankful that we do not as yet have any cases of Zika in the Cayman Islands, we must remain vigilant. As there is no vaccine against the Zika virus (or for dengue or chikungunya), this highlights the importance of controlling the carrier mosquito. We continue to encourage the general public to remove any containers from their yards which can hold water, such as buckets, plant pots and discarded tyres, as these are the favoured breeding sites for this mosquito,” he said.
As Cayman fights to keep Zika away, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US recently reported that Zika is a cause of microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Pregnant women continue to be cautioned when travelling to countries where there is an established and ongoing outbreak of the Zika virus.
Eight countries have now also reported evidence of sexual transmission of the Zika virus. These are Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal and the United States. Peru and Portugal are the latest countries to report person-to-person transmission. In all cases, the men travelled to countries with active Zika virus transmission. Where sufficient information was provided related to unprotected sexual intercourse before, during, or shortly after cessation of the symptoms, sexual partners did not visit a country with known active Zika virus transmission.
No cases of transmission from women infected with Zika virus to their sexual partners have been reported to date. From individual case reports, Zika virus RNA has been detected up to 62 days after onset of symptoms in semen. It is, however, not currently known if sexual transmission can occur from asymptomatic males to their sex partners.
Category: Local News