One Year of Zika in the Territory
DOH Reminds USVI Community to Take Precautions
This month marks the one-year anniversary of the first reported case, January 19, 2016, of Zika being diagnosed in the US Virgin Islands. Although Zika cases seems to be reducing in the territory, the USVI Department of Health (DOH) would like to remind residents that Zika is still in the territory and encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to prevent Zika infection.
Zika is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya. Zika can also be passed by an infected person through sex, even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people with Zika will not have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The DOH also encourages anyone with Zika symptoms to take advantage of FREE Zika testing offered by DOH-supported clinics throughout the territory.
Zika is of greatest concern to pregnant women, who can pass infection to their developing fetus. Zika infection causes microcephaly and other severe fetal birth defects. Therefore, pregnant women should take steps to prevent mosquito bites and protect themselves from sexual transmission throughout their entire pregnancy.
The DOH urges pregnant women to take advantage of the following FREE products and services:
Zika testing at 12 locations throughout the islands (Click here for a listing)
Inspections to look for mosquito larvae and areas of standing water at/around her house; if mosquito larvae are found, larvicide treatment will be offered
Zika Prevention Kit (ZPK) containing educational materials, insect repellent, permethrin, condoms, larvicides to treat standing water, and a bed net.
Reported Zika cases in USVI as of January 10, 2017.
Please note: There are no cases for the year 2017 as of yet; the 21 new cases are from 2016.
Zika prevention is everyone’s responsibility
Anyone can get Zika if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Protecting yourself from Zika can help protect the pregnant women in your community. Everyone should take steps to prevent the spread of Zika by preventing mosquito bites, and using condoms correctly every time you have sex to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. Prevent mosquito bites, by following the 3 Ds of prevention:
Dress – wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Drain – at least once a week, get rid of standing water in and around your home where mosquitoes can lay eggs
Defend – use an EPA-registered insect repellent and treat clothes with permethrin
For questions about Zika in USVI or to receive any of the DOH’s free services, please call the DOH Emergency Operations Center at 340-712-6205 or visit doh.vi.gov. You can also find valuable information and ask questions on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/virginislandsDOH.