First Zika Virus Cases Confirmed

As a regional outbreak persists, public health officials have confirmed the first two Cayman Islands cases of imported Zika virus contracted by returning residents.Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said the first patient is a female resident, who travelled from 15 to 22 June to a country where there is an outbreak of Zika. She reported onset of symptoms beginning on 25 June when she visited the Health Services Authority.The second patient, a female resident who recently completed high school in a country where there is a Zika outbreak, returned home on 19 June. She reported onset of symptoms beginning 23 June and sought medical attention on 25 June. Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said there is no evidence of local transmission of Zika in the Cayman Islands.“While the Zika virus is mainly transmitted through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, other modes of transmission - in particular, sexual transmission - have been documented,” he said. “We cannot over-emphasise that all men returning from where local transmission of Zika virus is known to occur, should adopt safer sexual practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks after return. Continue to be alert, and practice preventative measures, to ensure minimal to non-risk of being bitten by the carrier mosquito, Aedes aegypti.”For Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to transmit Zika they must bite infected persons, otherwise they can’t become infectious and transmit the disease.“We advise, any person who develops Zika virus symptoms, especially fever, rash conjunctivitis (pink eye) within two weeks of having returned from countries with Zika virus cases to consult their physician and inform of their travel history,” added Dr. Williams-Rodriguez. “We continue to caution everyone, especially women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, to be extra careful during their travels overseas where there is an outbreak.”Zika is linked with microcephaly, a condition where the size of an infant’s head is smaller than normal, because of slowed or incomplete brain development.Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) Director, Dr. Bill Petrie said they are monitoring the situation closely and reminds the public to help reduce the Aedes aegypti population by clearing yards of containers that hold water, as these are favourite breeding sites of the mosquito.For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.For further information on Zika, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 or 244-2632.Information on the Zika virus can be obtained by accessing the following website from the World Health Organization.