ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Friday July 8, 2016 – Grenada may have recorded its first Zika-related death.
Health officials are trying to determine if an individual who was being treated for Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a known side effect of Zika, was actually infected by the mosquito-borne virus.
Zika has been strongly linked to the rare neurological condition that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system. GBS can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
But because the disease can develop outside of contracting Zika, Health Minister Nicolas Steele said tests were being done to confirm whether the virus played any role in the death.
The deceased was one of two people being treated for GBS in hospital. Steele said the other patient is improving.
The government says it spends EC$23,000 (US$8,518) to treat one person with GBS. Earlier this week, Minister Steele said that with the assistance of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Grenada was able to secure one dose of Immunoglobin, which is used to treat the disease, from the eight available doses in Panama.
Up to three days ago, there were nine confirmed and 30 suspected cases of Zika in the island, and the Health Minister said there was need for a collective effort to mitigate against the effects of the virus.
He said expectant mothers would receive counselling as they put systems in place to deal with microcephaly – a defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and severe brain damage – which is also linked to Zika.