ST. CROIX, US Virgin Islands, Monday January 25, 2016 – The Virgin Islands Department of Health has confirmed the territory’s first case Zika virus.
It said the virus was found in a 42-year-old woman in St. Croix with no history of previous travel during the incubation period of the virus.
Twenty countries in the Americas and about 10 in Africa, Asia and the Pacific have reported cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus infection, according to the UN World Health Organization (WHO).
The virus is being blamed for birth defects – including microcephaly, a rare condition in which the brains of infants are unusually small – in babies born to women who contracted the virus while pregnant.
“Most countries are reporting sporadic cases but we have larger outbreaks in Brazil, in Colombia, in El Salvador, in Panama and in Cape Verde,” WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier told reporters in Geneva.
“Microcephaly cases which have occurred now recently in Brazil stand at 3,893 reported suspected cases, with 49 deaths in 20 states of Brazil, and we have that one case reported out of Hawaii, an earlier traveller to Brazil,” he added, noting that the link between Zika and microcephaly is still being investigated.
According to the WHO, teams are working with Brazil and other countries.
Zika comes from the same mosquito that transmits dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya.
The WHO says the best prevention measures include wearing long sleeves and trousers, usinginsect repellents and sleeping under mosquito nets.
At this point, no specific travel advisory has been issued by WHO.
Earlier this month, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert for people traveling to the Caribbean and other areas that have confirmed transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
It specifically advised pregnant women that out of an abundance of caution, they should consider postponing travel to those areas.