Bahamas Confirms 1 Case of Zika; Protective, Established Protocols Are Being Followed

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Man who recently travelled from Jamaica who lives in Pinewood returns with ZIKA!

Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez, left, addresses the press. Looking on is Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Harrison Thompson, acting in the capacity of PS/Ministry of Health. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)
Minister of Health the Hon. Dr. Perry Gomez, left, addresses the press. Looking on is Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary Harrison Thompson, acting in the capacity of PS/Ministry of Health. (BIS Photo/Derek Smith)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Officials at the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health (DPH) Wednesday reported one confirmed case of the Zika virus Infection in The Bahamas — New Providence to be exact.

The confirmed case was contracted outside of The Bahamas and involved an adult, Bahamian male who recently traveled to Jamaica.

The male presented to a private physician at a private medical facility with symptoms including rash, fever, joint pains and headache. A blood sample was taken for testing and sent to a reference laboratory. A confirmed positive result was received on Tuesday, August 9, 2016.

Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr. Michael Perry Gomez said the adult male has been treated for the associated symptoms and is recovering.

Dr. Gomez said healthcare officials at the Ministry of Health and the Department of Public Health and its Surveillance Unit, in conjunction with officials from the Department of Environmental Health (DEHS), have been collaborating and will continue to collaborate on a number of measures aimed at protection and prevention.

The continued collaborations will ensure that the established protocols and follow-ups are undertaken.

“This gentleman will have a follow-up with our Surveillance Unit as early as today so that this information is shared as we continue to work with the Bahamian public as we want them to work with us to keep The Bahamas safe from any potential threat to our public health,” Dr. Gomez said.

Dr. Glen Beneby, Chief Medical Officer for the Ministry of Health, said the quick turn-around in getting a confirmation was as a result of the Ministry’s public/private collaborations on healthcare matters with key stakeholders.

“We want the population to be aware and to understand that this is a public health issue and that together, we will try to stem any significant spread of this condition throughout the Commonwealth – not just Nassau, but the Family Islands as well.

“Persons need not panic. The Zika virus infection is of major concern due to the confirmed association between infection in pregnancy and birth defects such as Microcephaly. There have also been confirmed cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome in persons infected with Zika virus.

“What they should be doing is to be following the established protocols as indicated by the Ministry of Health, the Department of Public Health, its Surveillance Unit and the Department of Environmental Health – particularly females at child-bearing age and persons who are out at especially night — regarding the spraying of insect repellant on the skin and following all of the instructions relating to eliminating the potential for contracting Zika such as eliminating stagnant water in our communities, particularly with the rain we have had.”

Other forms of prevention/protection include wearing long-sleeved, light coloured clothing; completely screening all doors and windows; sleeping under mosquito nets; the elimination of mosquito breeding sites in and around living spaces by securely covering domestic water containers such as buckets and barrels; properly discarding old tires and containers that collect water (for example bottles and cans) and covering and sealing tanks, soak-a-ways, garbage bins and cisterns.

While Zika is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedis aegypti mosquito – the same mosquito that transmits Dengue, Chikungunya and Yellow Fever viruses – other modes of transmission have been identified including Mother-to-baby and through sexual transmission.

“To prevent sexual transmission, the correct use of condoms at each encounter is advised,” Dr. Gomez said. “Pregnant women and women planning to be pregnant, should take to their healthcare provider and pay particular attention to prevention measures.”

The Health Minister said further information about Zika can be obtained by contacting the offices of the National Disease Surveillance Unit at 502-4776, 502-4790, 376-3809 or 376-4705.

Dr. Kathleen Israel, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in The Bahamas said she supports the efforts being undertaken in The Bahamas with regards to protection and prevention of the virus at the individual and community levels.

“You need a vector, the mosquito, and that is where the prevention is,” Dr. Israel said. “We need to control the adult vector by protecting ourselves and by spraying (fogging) and other things that can happen at the community level to deal with the adult mosquito and then to prevent the mosquito from breeding in your domestic water supply sources. So the mosquito is what we need to focus on for prevention.”