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Weekly Update: Three More Cases of Zika Confirmed, One False-Positive on St. John

On Wednesday, the V.I. Department of Health confirmed three more cases of Zika in the territory, which brings the total to 32 cases.

To date, 17 of the 32 confirmed Zika cases have occurred on St. Croix. St. Thomas has 15 confirmed cases and St. John has none.

In earlier reports, Health confirmed one case on St. John but that case has since been identified as a false positive. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, false-positive cases can happen when someone has a closely related virus such as dengue fever, which is also currently being transmitted in the territory.

There have been 349 “reported” Zika cases, which refers to suspected but not confirmed ones, in the territory since the start of the outbreak in late January. A total of 259 cases have come back negative for the virus and 56 are currently pending results.

According to the current surveillance report, no new cases of dengue were reported this week. There have been 22 cases of dengue this year: 13 on St. Croix, eight on St. Thomas and one on St. John.

Health has tested 734 pregnant women for Zika since the start of the outbreak. Three pregnant women have tested positive for the virus and one has given birth to a healthy baby, but the status of the other two remains unknown.   The surveillance report indicates that only one of these women is currently pregnant.

In June the World Health Organization officially recommended that women in areas with local Zika transmission delay pregnancy since it confirmed that Zika can cause microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormal smallness of the head and stunted brain development. Zika also puts unborn babies at risk of other illnesses, such as eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

Zika’s most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, which can make it difficult to distinguish from dengue.

According to the WHO, 10 countries have reported evidence for person-to-person transmission from a man to a woman, likely through a sexual route, including vaginal and anal, and likely oral sex.

For this reason, Health is encouraging people to use condoms during sexual intercourse. At this time, the WHO and the CDC report that there is no evidence that women can transmit Zika to their sex partners.

The Virgin Islands has not reported any sexually transmitted cases of Zika, as it’s difficult to tell whether a case was transmitted through sexual contact or through the bite of a mosquito when the disease is circulating locally. Zika stays in semen longer than blood and a man can pass it to his female or male sex partners.

With the assistance of a CDC Emergency Operations Systems that activated in February, Health has given 215 presentations throughout the territory to educate about Zika. It’s conducted 18 on St. John, 70 on St. Thomas, 127 on St. Croix.

According to Health, people can protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites by following these four cautionary measures that start with a D:

– Dress: Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves, long pants and light colors;

– Drain: Get rid of water containers in and around your home;

– Defend: Use repellant on exposed skin and treat clothes with one of several EPA-approved repellants;

– Discuss: Spread the word about the simple things you can do to make a difference.

Health is continuing to offer free Zika testing for pregnant women regardless of if they are showing symptoms or not and educational materials are being distributed in English and Spanish. Prevention tools like mosquito nets, insect repellent and condoms are being given away free of charge to pregnant women at the following locations:

On St. Croix    

– Department of Health MCH Clinic    

– Department of Health WIC Clinic

– Juan F. Luis Hospital and Medical Center   

– Frederiksted Health Center  

On St. John     

– Health Care Connection

– Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center  

  On St. Thomas

– Department of Health MCH Clinic (Pediatric)       

– Department of Health Community Health Clinic (Prenatal)         

– Roy Lester Schneider Hospital

– East End Medical Center

For local information about Zika virus, call the Department of Health Emergency Operations Center at 340-712-6205. For more general information about the Zika virus, call toll free: 1-800-CDC-INFO.

Health is also partnering with several labs and clinics throughout the territory to provide free virus testing for anyone who is showing symptoms. The department said that if you are turned away from testing or are told to pay for testing then to call Health, since it has agreements in place with several facilities. These places should not be charging for Zika testing:

On St. Croix:

– Acute Alternative Medical Group, 772-2883.

– Beeston Hill Clinical Lab, 773-4990.

– Clinical Laboratory Inc. (Sunny Isle), 778-5369.

– Frederiksted Health Care, Inc., 772-0260.

– Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital & Medical Center, 778-6311.

– Primary Care PLLC, 718-7788.

  On St. John:

– Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, 693-8900.

  On St. Thomas:

– Community Medical Laboratory, 776-7444.

– Cranston/Dottin Biomedical Lab, 774-6256.

– Doctors Clinical Laboratory, 774-2760.

– Havensight Medical Laboratory, 774-5515.

– Roy Lester Schneider Hospital, 776-8311.

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