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Jamaica Says Its First Confirmed Case Of The Zika Virus Came From Texas

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KINGSTON –Jamaican health officials confirmed the  nation’s first case of the Zika virus Saturday in a 4-year-old child who recently returned from a trip to Texas.

The child, who has now recovered, began showing symptoms Jan. 17 after visiting that U.S. state, Jamaica’s Ministry of Health said in a statement.

It’s unclear whether the child picked up the virus in Jamaica or Texas. The ministry said it is investigating the case to determine the source of the infection.

The virus has been associated with a sharp jump in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads, mainly in Brazil. It is also linked to increases in Guillain-Barre syndrome, in which the immune system attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis.

Jamaican Health Minister Horace Dalley said in the statement that the child’s parents and family have been contacted and briefed by a team from the ministry. No other family members are ill at this time, according to the statement, first reported by Nationwide Radio’s Abka Fitz-Henley.

Dalley said he plans to provide a full update on the case Monday.
The mosquito-borne infection has been detected in some 24 countries and territories in the Americas since Brazil reported its first case in May, Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week.

The patient is a child from Portmore, St Catherine in Jamaica.

In a news release Saturday, the ministry said the child began showing symptoms on January 17 after earlier returning to Jamaica from a trip to Texas.

The child was investigated at the Bustamante Hospital for Children and samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing on January 26, 2016.

The ministry said it received the positive Zika virus test result from CARPHA late Friday.

The ministry said the case is being investigated to determine the source of infection and the child’s parents and family have been contacted and briefed by a team from the Ministry of Health.

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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 50 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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