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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 21, 2016

Department of Health Reports No New Cases of Zika

DOH Encourages Pregnant Women to Get Tested; Take Advantage of Free Zika Services 

The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Health reports no new cases of Zika in the territory this week. According to the weekly Zika surveillance report, the total number of confirmed positive cases in the USVI remains at 26, with 16 cases on St. Croix, 9 cases on St. Thomas and 1 on St. John. 

"We are happy to report no new Zika cases in the territory this week,” said Dr. Michelle S. Davis, Commissioner of the Department of Health. “The Department of Health will continue to be proactive in the fight against Zika in the territory by providing education and educational materials to the public on prevention methods, as well as providing free Zika testing, free home inspections, larvicide treatments and Zika Prevention Kits for pregnant women and free testing also for those who exhibit symptoms,” she said.

In February 2016, the department activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to coordinate all Zika response efforts and field media and public inquiries. Additionally, they have been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to strengthen efforts to track the outbreak, enhance laboratory services for faster testing results and spread the word. 

As part of these efforts, the DOH is also offering a range of FREE Zika services for pregnant women: 

  • Free Zika testing at 12 locations throughout the islands; 
  • Free Inspections to look for mosquito larvae and mosquito breeding grounds at/around her house;
  • Free Larvicide treatment if mosquito larvae are found at/around her house; 
  • Free Zika Prevention Kit, includes educational materials, insect repellent, permethrin spray repellant, condoms to avoid sexual transmission of Zika, treatment tabs for preventing mosquitoes from breeding in standing water, and a bed net. 

By following the 4 Ds of Zika prevention the DOH says everyone can protect themselves and their families: 

  • Dress – wear protective clothing – long sleeves, long pants and light colors 
  • Drain – get rid of water containers in and around your home 
  • Defend – use repellant on exposed skin and treat clothes with one of several EPA-approved repellants 
  • Discuss – spread the word about the simple things you can do to make a difference

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected or may be infected and have no symptoms. Zika can also be transmitted sexually. 

Pregnant women are the most vulnerable; the effects are much more severe. If infected with Zika, they can pass the virus onto their unborn child, which has the potential to cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly – an illness marked by smaller than usual heads. 

“We [DOH] will continue to stress the importance of protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our islands from the possible devastating health effects of this virus. If you are pregnant we strongly encourage you to take advantage of the free services offered by the Department of Health. If you know someone that’s pregnant we strongly urge you to spread the word,” Commissioner Davis stated. 

For local information about the Zika virus or to receive any of the Department of Health’s free services, call the Department of Health Emergency Operations Center at (340) 712-6205 or visit www.healthvi.org and our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/virginislandsDOH For more general information about the Zika virus call toll free: 1-800-CDC-INFO. 

The Department of Health in collaboration with CDC will be stationed at several locations this week providing information and free insect repellant at the USVI Veterans Expo on June 21st at the TuTu Park Mall, located on St. Thomas and June 23r d at the SunShine Mall, located on St. Croix. They will also be present on Saturday June 25th at the St. Thomas Housing Expo at the University of the Virgin Islands.

Tune in also to WKJC Isle 95, (95.1FM) on Thursday, June 28th at 8:10am, to hear DOH briefly discuss the Zika response in the USVI and the steps we can all take to protect ourselves and our families.

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