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V.I. Health Officials Confirm First Case Of Zika Virus Discovered In St. Croix

esther ellis

    Health’s Dr. Esther Ellis

CHRISTIANSTED – The V.I. Department of Health said this morning that it has confirmed a case of the Zika virus in a 42-year-old St. Croix woman.

The Department issued a media alert at 10:25 a.m. today stating that its chief epidemiologist Dr. Esther Ellis will conduct a press conference on the subject at noon Friday in the Charles Harwood Memorial Hospital.

Health officials said the woman has “no history of previous travel during the incubation period of the virus.”

That information is significant because it suggests that the woman became infected with the Zika virus on St. Croix.

The news means that the Virgin Islands will be added to the list of 21 other places in the world affected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning to travelers, especially pregnant women, to avoid circumstances that could expose them to mosquito bites while visiting areas with confirmed cases.

The  Health Department said that it will begin distributing free mosquito bite prevention kits to the general public to try to combat the virus.

Brazilian officials have linked the tropical illness to birth defects. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that pregnant women should avoid traveling to 22 countries and territories in the Americas and South Pacific where the virus has been detected.

Barbados, Bolivia, Guadeloupe, St. Martin, Guyana Cape Verde and Samoa are some of the other places that the Zika virus has recently been confirmed.

Zika symptoms are generally milder than those of dengue and chikungunya and can include a slight fever, headache and pain in the hands and feet.

Health officials also stressed the need for people to remove stagnant water where it pools to cut down on the local mosquito population.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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