On Tuesday the V.I. Department of Health confirmed three more cases of Zika on St. Thomas, bringing the territory’s total to 29 cases.
To date, 16 of the 29 confirmed Zika cases have occurred on St. Croix. St. Thomas has 12 confirmed cases and St. John has just one.
There have been 326 reported, which refers to suspected but not confirmed cases, of Zika in the territory since the start of the outbreak in January. A total of 252 cases have come back negative for the virus and 43 are currently pending results.
According to this week’s surveillance report, there’s been 22 cases of dengue this year: 13 on St. Croix, eight on St. Thomas and one on St. John.
This week St. Croix added five new cases of dengue and St. Thomas gained two.
Since the start of the outbreak in the territory, 727 pregnant women have been tested for the Zika. Three pregnant women have tested positive for the virus and one has given birth to a healthy baby, but the status of the other two remains unknown.
Earlier this month the World Health Organization officially recommended that women in areas with local Zika transmission delay pregnancy.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed that Zika can cause microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormal smallness of the head and stunted brain development. If unborn babies contract Zika while in the womb, they could suffer form microcephaly and other illnesses, such as eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.
“While there is no vaccine for Zika, we are encouraging all pregnant women and anyone exhibiting symptoms of Zika to take advantage of the free Zika services being offered by the Department of Heath, to protect ourselves and our families from the potentially devastating health effects of this virus,” Health Commissioner Michelle Davis stated in a press release.
According to the WHO, 10 countries have reported evidence for person-to-person transmission from a man to a woman, likely through a sexual route, including vaginal and anal, and likely oral sex. For this reason, Health is encouraging people to use condoms during sexual intercourse.
At this time, the WHO and the CDC reports that there is no evidence that women can transmit Zika to their sex partners. The Zika virus stays in semen longer than blood and a man can pass it to his female or male sex partners.
The Virgin Islands has not reported any sexually transmitted cases of Zika, as it’s difficult to tell whether a case was transmitted through sexual contact or through the bite of a mosquito. At this time Health is not testing sexual partners of people who test positive for Zika.
Health is continuing to offer free Zika testing for pregnant women regardless of if they are showing symptoms or not. The CDC has contracted a private company to inspect the homes of pregnant women for potential mosquito breeding risks and to offer larvicide treatment if necessary.
Any households with a pregnant woman that would like this free service or want additional information about it can call Health’s Emergency Operations Center at 340-712-6205.
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
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 also partnering with several labs and clinics throughout the territory to provide free virus infection testing. The department said that if you are turned away from testing or are told to pay for testing then to call Health, since it has agreements in place with several facilities. These places should not be charging for Zika testing:
On St. Croix:
– Acute Alternative Medical Group, 772-2883.
– 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.