KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday October 23, 2015 – On the heels of a local doctor’s claim that she had diagnosed a dozen cases of the Zika virus, Chief Medical Officer in the Health Ministry Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse is insisting there is no evidence that the mosquito-borne virus has reached Jamaica.
Dr Sandra Williams-Phillips claims she contracted the virus and she had seen 12 patients who also had the virus, although she acknowledged she had not done any laboratory testing to confirm.
But DuCasse says without confirmation, it could not be said the virus was in Jamaica.
“Zika virus has very similar symptoms to dengue and chikungunya and so a conclusive diagnosis without laboratory testing may not be possible. In addition, Zika has never been in Jamaica nor the Latin American and Caribbean region outside of Brazil and Colombia so we could not rely on just a suspicion.
“The ministry would have to take steps to confirm by laboratory testing if it is circulating if there is a suspicion.”
Officials from the St Catherine Health Department has asked Dr. Williams-Phillips to provide required information in a few days so that it can be reviewed and a determination made on whether samples should be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for testing.
The Zika virus, also known as ZIKV, is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya and dengue.
It is from the same family as, and is similar to, dengue with symptoms that include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.
After the bite of an infected mosquito, symptoms usually appear following the incubation period of three to 12 days. They last for four to seven days. No deaths due to the Zika virus have been recorded worldwide to date.