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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 19, 2016

CDC Issues Official Health Advisory Recognizing, Managing, and Reporting Zika Virus Infections in Travelers Returning from Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico

Acting Commissioner Juan Figueroa-Serville of the Virgin Islands Department of Health is advising the people of the Territory that the CDC has issued an official health advisory Summary. 

In May 2015, the World Health Organization reported the first local transmission of Zika virus in the Western Hemisphere, with autochthonous (locally acquired) cases identified in Brazil. As of January 15, 2016, local transmission had been identified in at least 14 countries or territories in the Americas, including Puerto Rico. Further spread to other countries in the region is likely. 

Local transmission of Zika virus has not been documented in the continental United States or in the US Virgin Islands. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States likely will increase. 

Zika virus infection should be considered in patients with acute onset of fever, maculopapular rash, arthralgia or conjunctivitis, who traveled to areas with ongoing transmission in the two weeks prior to illness onset. Clinical disease usually is mild. However, during the current outbreak, Zika virus infections have been confirmed in several infants with microcephaly and in fetal losses in women infected during pregnancy. We do not yet understand the full spectrum of outcomes that might be associated with infection during pregnancy, nor the factors that might increase risk to the fetus. Additional studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. 

Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected Zika virus disease cases to the Department of health to facilitate diagnosis and to mitigate the risk of local transmission. State health departments are requested to report laboratory-confirmed cases to CDC. CDC is working with states to expand Zika virus laboratory testing capacity, using existing RT-PCR protocols. 

This CDC Health Advisory includes information and recommendations about Zika virus clinical disease, diagnosis, and prevention, and provides travel guidance for pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant. Until more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to these areas should talk to their doctors or other healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare providers before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. 

Treatment 

No specific antiviral treatment is available for Zika virus disease. Treatment is generally supportive and can include rest, fluids, and use of analgesics and antipyretics. Because of similar geographic distribution and symptoms, patients with suspected Zika virus infections also should be evaluated and managed for possible dengue or chikungunya virus infection. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. In particular, pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen. People infected with Zika, chikungunya, or dengue virus should be protected from further mosquito exposure during the first few days of illness to reduce the risk of local transmission. 

Prevention 

  • No vaccine or preventive drug is available. The best way to prevent Zika virus infection is to: 
    • Avoid mosquito bites. 
    • Use air conditioning or window and door screens when indoors. 
    • Wear long sleeves and pants, and use insect repellents when outdoors. Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than two months. Pregnant and lactating women can use all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label. 

Recommendations for Health Care Providers and Public Health Practitioners 

  • Zika virus infection should be considered in patients with acute fever, rash, arthralgia, or conjunctivitis, who traveled to areas with ongoing transmission in the two weeks prior to onset of illness. 
  • All travelers should take steps to avoid mosquito bites to prevent Zika virus infection and other mosquito-borne diseases
  • Until more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctors or other healthcare providers first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare providers before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. 
  • Fetuses and infants of women infected with Zika virus during pregnancy should be evaluated for possible congenital infection and neurologic abnormalities. 
  • Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected Zika virus disease cases to their state or local health department to facilitate diagnosis and to mitigate the risk of local transmission. 
  • Health departments should perform surveillance for Zika virus disease in returning travelers and be aware of the risk of possible local transmission in areas where Aedes species mosquitoes are active. 
  • State and Territory health departments are requested to report laboratory-confirmed Zika virus infections to CDC. 

For More Information 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries; enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues; and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations.

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Forms and Downloads
Instructions for Reporting Suspected Zika Cases to USVI Department of Health
Chikungunya Reporting Form
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