The Virgin Islands Department of Health reported no new cases of Zika this week, though it did confirm four case of dengue.
The total count for Zika cases remains at 12, with 11 on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas. The new dengue cases were reported on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Jessica Schindelar, a communications specialist for the Centers for Disease Control’s Zika Emergency Operations Center based on St. Croix, said that it’s too soon to tell if Zika’s transmission is slowing in the territory.
A total of 77 suspected cases of Zika are currently reported throughout the territory and a number of them are pending lab results. According to Health, 15 new results came back negative since last week’s report.
There are fewer reported cases this week because confirmed negative results are removed from reported case counts.
“We still have 62 lab results pending, so we can expect that we will see more positive cases confirmed,” Schindelar said, adding that Health is still getting results back from labs in three to four weeks.
There are currently 51 suspected Zika cases on St. Croix, 25 in St. Thomas and one in St. John, with most of these cases still pending results.
As the Zika spreads throughout Puerto Rico, Heath is keeping in close contact with epidemiologists there and is coordinating response efforts. In the last week, Puerto Rico has confirmed 100 additional Zika cases, bringing its total to 350, 40 of which are pregnant women.
Schindelar said Health will begin issuing weekly dengue reports in another two weeks.
Dengue and Zika are potentially dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn children, so Health is urging testing even if they’re not displaying symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, but can also include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and vomiting.
Zika is a concern for pregnant women, since it could be potentially linked to an increase in microcephaly, a condition that causes newborns to be born with smaller than normal heads.
“The Department of Health continues to test pregnant women without symptoms of Zika,” Health Commissioner Nominee Dr. Michelle Davis stated in a press release. “As of this week, 402 samples have been received from pregnant women, of those 162 have tested negative.”
“Four pregnant women have been confirmed with dengue. No cases of Zika have been confirmed in pregnant women,” Davis said.
Since the possibility for sexual transmission of Zika has been confirmed, the CDC recommends that pregnant women use condoms during sex or refrain from having it in order to prevent passing Zika on to their babies while in the womb. The CDC also recently announced that Zika-infected couples should postpone pregnancy.
“Pregnant women who have been tested for Zika virus are eligible for a free inspection as part of our mosquito control and Zika management program,” Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Jones said.
Jones added that these inspections are not indicative of a positive Zika test result, but are rather a precautionary measure to keep pregnant women safe. Initial inspection began last week and larvicide application will begin in the coming days.
For local information about Zika virus, call the Department of Health Emergency Operations Center at 340-712-6205. For more general information about the Zika virus, call toll free: 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Health is distributing education materials in English and Spanish, as well as prevention tools like mosquito nets, insect repellent and condoms to pregnant women at the following locations:
On St. Croix
– Department of Health MCH Clinic
– Department of Health WIC Clinic
– Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center
– Frederiksted Health Center
On St. John
– Health Care Connection
– Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center
On St. Thomas
– Department of Health MCH Clinic (Pediatric)
– Department of Health Community Health Clinic (Prenatal)
– Roy Lester Schneider Hospital
– East End Medical Center
Health is partnering with several labs and clinics throughout the territory to provide free virus infection testing:
On St. Croix:
– Beeston Hill Clinical Lab, 773-4990.
– Clinical Laboratory Inc. (Sunny Isle), 778-5369.
– Frederiksted Health Care, Inc., 772-0260.
– Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center, 778-6311.
– Primary Care PLLC, 718-7788.
On St. John:
– Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, 693-8900.
On St. Thomas:
– Community Medical Laboratory, 776-7444.
– Cranston/Dottin Biomedical Lab, 774-6256.
– Doctors Clinical Laboratory, 774-2760.
– Havensight Medical Laboratory, 774-5515.
– Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, 776-8311.