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Barbados Reports Eight Cases Of The Zika Virus

John Boyce

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Ministry of Health says it is monitoring eight suspected cases of the Zika virus.

At a press conference on Friday, Minister of Health John Boyce said samples will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago for confirmatory testing and the results will be shared with the public as soon as the ministry receives word from the agency.

In the wake of this, Boyce has warned the public to be on alert and “use simple measures to prevent mosquito breeding around our homes, business places and communities.”

“The fact that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, is the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever and chikungunya, we are all very familiar with the prevention and control measures which we need to undertake… Inspect your surroundings to search out and remove mosquito-breeding places on your properties. The Ministry of Health recommends that this should be done once per week.”

To combat Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses, the Environmental Health Department says it will continue to carry out prevention and control activities, such as house-to-house inspections, surveillance at ports of entry and fogging in high-risk areas.
In addition, the ministry will continue its epidemiological surveillance to collect and analyse data from various sources, including private and public sector facilities, on a weekly basis to gather information for planning a response.

Concerning the H1N1 or Swine flu virus, the Ministry of Health says the virus has changed in terms of its threat to Barbados because a vast majority of the population has immunity.

Senior Medical Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr Arthur Phillips who also addressed the press conference said the virus has essentially become as seasonal flu “as many Barbadians would have been exposed between 2009 and the present… It’s something that occurs every year. So the numbers have become very small and in the vast majority of cases, it is a relatively mild illness.”

He stated that the Ministry pays special attention to the virus within certain high-risk groups, as more severe symptoms could develop. However, he added, “In the scheme of things, it is a mild virus.”

“The flu season goes from the end of one year to the beginning of the next year, and each year there are outbreaks of the flu… The Ministry of Health has mechanisms through which it monitors and reviews possible influenza cases and analyses this data on a weekly basis,” he affirmed.

According to the Senior Medical Officer, since the major global outbreak of H1N1 in 2009, now that the virus is under control, there have been 66 cases of H1N1 in Barbados.

Phillips described the general symptoms as being fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and joint aches, headache, fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms.

He identified the high-risk groups as being older persons, younger children and individuals with chronic illnesses.

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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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