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March 1, 2016

Department of Health Confirms Additional Cases of Zika and Dengue

As reported in today’s Zika surveillance report, the Virgin Islands Department of Health confirmed two additional cases of Zika on St. Croix, bringing the total to 6 cases. This is not unexpected, and the Department of Health expects that there will continue to be more positive cases in the future. 

In addition, on March 1st, the Department of Health is reporting 4 new confirmed cases of dengue, bringing the total for 2016 to 7. There have not been any cases of dengue in the Territory since January 2015, when there were 19 suspected and 3 laboratory confirmed as probable cases. Due to the increase in dengue cases, the Department of health will begin reporting dengue cases as well as Zika cases each Tuesday.

Both Zika and dengue are potentially dangerous for pregnant women. Zika may be associated with birth defects (microcephaly), and pregnant women are at higher risk of severe complications from dengue fever. Any pregnant woman experiencing symptoms should see their healthcare provider for evaluation. They should also avoid ibuprofen, aspirin, or aspirin-containing drugs until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. Pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen (Paracetamol or Tylenol®.) as it is not associated with increased risk for hemorrhagic complications.

Zika has been confirmed to be transmitted sexually, and the CDC now recommends that pregnant women in areas with active Zika transmission, such as in the USVI, should either use condoms the right way every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy. Sexual transmission of dengue has not been confirmed, but it is theoretically possible.

Since both dengue and Zika cases are currently present in the Territory, all people, but especially pregnant women and their sexual partners, should enhance their efforts to reduce their risk of becoming infected:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing one of the following:
    • DEET, such as in, Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon
    • Picaridin, such as in Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus, such as in Repel and Off! Botanicals
    • IR3535, such as in Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net 
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items
  • Check around your home and eliminate any standing water, where mosquitoes can breed
    • Empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and outside your home
    • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs
    • For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
    • For more information on what you can do to help control mosquitoes on your property:

Lastly, since people infected with Zika or dengue can be bitten by uninfected mosquitoes, that then can become infected and go on to infect other people (including pregnant women), they should follow the recommendations listed above during the first few days of illness to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others.

The Department of Health is continuing to enhance surveillance and lab testing capacity, partner with local healthcare providers, and educate the community about Zika and dengue through public outreach, media and social media.

For local information about Zika virus, call the Department of Health Emergency Operations Center at (340) 712-6205. For more general information about the Zika virus call toll free: 1-800-CDC-INFO. 

If you have symptoms of Zika (fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes) or are pregnant, please see your local Primary Care Provider. The Department of Health has partnered with many clinics so that testing for Zika virus is available free of charge. The Department of Health continues to provide testing for the Zika virus as well.

Additional information

DOH's Special section on Zika

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Instructions for Reporting Suspected Zika Cases to USVI Department of Health
Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika Reporting Form



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