A pregnant woman is among 20 additional persons who have tested positive for Zika, the mosquito-borne illness that has been linked to microcephaly –a birth defect where a baby’s is born with an underdeveloped head and brain.
The Ministry of Health said on Monday that it has implemented the necessary care and monitoring of the pregnant patient and her unborn baby.
The ministry said that the 20 new laboratory-confirmed cases of the Zika virus are from samples collected between May 23 and June 6 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
These recent cases have increased the overall number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 28.
To date, 108 serum samples have been sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for ZIKA testing, the Ministry said.
Fifteen of the most recent confirmed cases have come from Bequia, one each from Lodge Village, Indian Bay and Layou and two of unknown addresses.
The ministry said it has even further intensified ongoing efforts and will continue to focus surveillance and response activities on addressing the rising number of cases.
“This was indeed anticipated, given the onset of the rainy season,” the ministry said in a statement and urged the public to continue to take the necessary steps to protect themselves.
The Aedes mosquito transmits the Zika virus and lives in and around houses and reproduces in any object containing still water.
The incubation period is seven to 10 days, and once hatched the insect can live up to six weeks. Prevention requires persons being aware of individual environmental responsibility by turning over drums, screening water tanks, protecting tires, securing septic tanks and generally keeping the environment clean, the ministry said.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, reiterated that it is critical that citizens continue to take all measures to protect themselves from mosquito bites and that they work feverishly towards source reduction, which is critical in the fight against Zika.