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UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

_________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 2, 2016

Department of Health Reports 14 New Zika Cases

DOH to Host Clinician Seminar on Zika at Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital on August 4th

The U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Department of Health (DOH) reports fourteen (14) new cases of Zika in the territory. According to the weekly surveillance report, the total number of confirmed positive cases in the territory is now seventy-nine (79) -- 20 cases on St. Croix, 58 cases on St. Thomas, and one (1) on St. John. Out of 1321 tests completed for pregnant women, ten (10) have laboratory evidence of Zika; four (4) are presumptive positive,* and six (6) are confirmed. 

Commissioner of the Department of Health, Michelle S. Davis, PhD, stated, “Amidst growing concerns about Zika and sexual transmission, DOH is urging pregnant women to be tested for the Zika virus in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, even if they have no symptoms. Pregnant women and their partner should prevent mosquito bites and use proper sexual protection for the length of the pregnancy, or abstain from sex.” A total of 930 Zika Prevention Kits have been distributed to pregnant women throughout the territory; additionally, 235 presentations have been conducted. Since DOH’s activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), February 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has deployed 48 additional staff, to assist with the Zika response in the USVI.

In an effort to address the rise in Zika cases in the territory and the recent discovery that Zika can also be transmitted sexually from women to men, the DOH has hosted a series of clinician seminars to ensure that providers have the latest information to protect their patients. The next clinician seminar will be held on St. Croix at the Governor Juan F. Luis Hospital in the third floor classroom, on Thursday, August 4, 2016 from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. 

According to CDC, if infected with Zika, a pregnant woman can pass the virus onto her fetus during pregnancy or during delivery. Zika has the potential to cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly – a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected, because the brain has not fully developed during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth. In addition to microcephaly, fetuses and infants infected with the Zika virus before birth, can also have other illnesses such as eye defects, hearing loss, and impaired growth. 

The Department of Health continues to urge pregnant women to take advantage of the FREE Zika virus testing and other services being offered by the DOH. 

Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus) mosquito, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people with Zika may not know they have the virus as symptoms are usually mild. 

The DOH also urges anyone exhibiting symptoms to take advantage of the FREE Zika testing offered through DOH-supported clinics throughout the territory. 

The Department of Health continues to offer the following FREE services to 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; and 
  • Free Zika Prevention Kit (ZPK) containing educational materials, insect repellent, permethrin spray repellent, condoms to avoid sexual transmission of Zika, treatment tabs for preventing mosquitoes from breeding in standing water, and a bed net. 

Protect yourself and your family from Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses, by following the 3 Ds of prevention: 

  • Dress – wear protective clothing – long sleeves, long pants and light colors 
  • Drain – get rid of water containers in and around your home that can serve as breeding places for mosquitoes 
  • Defend – use repellent on exposed skin and treat clothes with one of several EPA-approved repellents 

For local information about the Zika virus or to receive any of the Department of Health’s free services, call the DOH’s Emergency Operations Center at (340) 712-6205 or visit our new website www.doh.vi.gov.

You can also find valuable information and post comments on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/virginislandsDOH. For more general information about the Zika virus, call toll free: 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit CDC.org/zika.

*According to CDC, a presumptive positive Zika test result indicates that a person may have been recently infected recently with the Zika virus. This test result requires confirmation through additional testing (plaque reduction neutralization test-PRNT) performed by CDC or a CDC authorized laboratory to confirm the presence of antibodies. Those with presumptive positive results are currently awaiting their PRNT results, which will either confirm or rule out Zika virus infection.

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