Since the first case was confirmed on our shores this August, the Zika outbreak has grown.
More than 200 people have had blood shipped to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad. So far, 26 cases of have come back positive, and one pregnant woman is among the infected. That’s in addition to the 15 cases of clinically suspected Zika that have been reported by physicians to public health.
This week, Public Health hosted the first in a series of Zika town hall meetings, aimed at answering any questions pregnant women and the rest of the general population may have on this disease.
Some big headlines came out of that initial meeting. We learned one pregnant woman tested positive for zika. Public health also revealed some of the specific areas in George Town where they believe Zika is most prevalent.
The US Centers for Disease Control has concluded that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly, but HSA OBGYN Dr. Gilberta Alexander noted that Zika isn’t the only cause of microcephaly.
“There are many other causes of microcephaly, including excessive use of alcohol, smoking, some toxins, some medication or drugs can cause it as well, and some chromosomal abnormalities,” said Dr. Alexander.
There were also a lot of questions about the disease’s primary vector – the aedis aegypti mosquito, and what to do to control it in and around the home.
“It is actually helpful twice a week to go around your yard, or the premises and remove what you think may in the future hold water,” said MRCU Director Dr. Bill Petrie. “These mosquitos don’t lay their eggs in water like most mosquitos do, they lay their eggs in containers above the water line in anticipation of those containers being flooded at a future date.”
What about the worst case scenario. Let’s say you have a chance encounter with the aedis aegypti, and ended up infected. What do you do then?
Dr. Alexander shared guidelines for men and women.
“If a male is infected he should avoid pregnancy for about six months or use a condom, as the virus remains in the semen for at least 93 days. On the other hand, if a female is infected before pregnancy, she should avoid a pregnancy for at least 8 weeks,” said Dr. Alexander.