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Zika Virus Total Hits 500 In The Territory … St. Thomas Has Lion’s Share With 417 Cases

Lara, who is less then three months old and was born with microcephaly, is examined by a neurologist at the Pedro I hospital in Campina Grande, Paraiba state, Brazil, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Alarm in recent months over the Zika virus, which many researchers believe can cause microcephaly in the fetuses of pregnant women, has prompted calls, both inside and outside Brazil, to loosen a near-ban on abortion in the worlds most populous Catholic country. But the pro-choice push is creating a backlash, particularly among the families of disabled children. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The number of locally-acquired Zika virus cases reported in the territory increased by 62 in the past week, bringing the total to 524.

According to health officials, while the number of confirmed cases continues to grow after a downward trend of new cases that had lasted for more than five weeks.

“We’ve seen five consecutive weeks of a downward trend, so we do think it has peaked, but it’s always good to have more data,” V.I. epidemiologist Esther Ellis said.

The breakdown of cases are as follows: St. Thomas now has 417 confirmed cases, St. Croix has a total of 78 and St. John’s total is now 29.

A total of 35 pregnant women have been confirmed positive with an additional 13 probable cases that are awaiting confirmatory testing results.

Zika’s most common symptoms are headache, fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes (conjunctivitis) and pain behind the eyes, which can make it difficult to distinguish from dengue.

Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes so prevention of mosquito bites is key. Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible.

Health officials has not reported any hospitalizations or deaths as a result of Zika to date. There have also been no cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS).

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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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