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Increase in zika expected, Chief Medical Officer

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Thursday, July 28 2016

AN increase in the cases of the zika virus was expected with the onset of rains, and testing for the virus by the Caribbean Public Health Agency is being restricted for at-risk persons says Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr Akenath Misir.

Commenting on reports that many persons were reporting the symptoms of the disease and being told by medical personnel, without being tested, that they would have contracted the zika virus, Misir told Newsday yesterday that testing was being restricted to pregnant women, or severely ill persons.

Asked whether there was an explosion of the virus, he said, “I would not say that there is an explosion. I would say there is an increase in the number of cases in Trinidad.” The ministry predicted that once the rains came, he said, “we expect we would have a big increase because of the Aedes Aegypti problem we have in Trinidad. That increase is in keeping with what we expected.” The Aedes Aegypti is also the vector for the dengue and chikungunya viruses.

While two doctors, who preferred anonymity, have told Newsday that they have treated a number of persons for conjunctivitis, rash and fever, common symptoms of the zika, they said, the number of zika cases are far higher than the confirmed cases that the Ministry of Health releases to the public.

They said they preferred Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, who has been releasing the figures, to comment on the situation.

As of July 22, the Ministry of Health reported 155 confirmed cases in Trinidad, and two in Tobago.

Meanwhile the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has reported that as of July 14, a total of 40 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Americas have confirmed cases of the zika since 2015. Five countries - Argentina, Canada, Chile, Peru, and the United States of America - in the Americas have reported sexually transmitted zika cases.

Zika is associated with microcephaly and the Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS). Between October 22, 2015 and July 9, 2016, Brazil’s Health Ministry reported 8,451 suspected cases of microcephaly and other congenital malformations of the central nervous system in newborns.

While eight countries have reported congenital syndrome associated with zika, 11 countries and territories in the region have reported an increase in GBS cases and other neurological disorders suspected to be associated with zika.



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