USVI confirms additional cases of both zika and dengue

The US Virgin Islands Department of Health has confirmed two additional cases of zika on St Croix, bringing the total to six cases. This is not unexpected, and the Department of Health expects that there will continue to be more positive cases in the future.

In addition, on March 1, the Department of Health reported four new confirmed cases of dengue fever, bringing the total for 2016 to seven. There have not been any cases of dengue in the territory since January 2015, when there were 19 suspected and three laboratory confirmed as probable cases.

Due to the increase in dengue cases, the Department of health will begin reporting dengue cases as well as zika cases each Tuesday.

Both zika and dengue are potentially dangerous for pregnant women. Zika may be associated with birth defects (microcephaly), and pregnant women are at higher risk of severe complications from dengue fever. Any pregnant woman experiencing symptoms should see their healthcare provider for evaluation. They should also avoid ibuprofen, aspirin, or aspirin-containing drugs until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. Pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen (Paracetamol or Tylenol) as it is not associated with increased risk for hemorrhagic complications.

Zika has been confirmed to be transmitted sexually, and the CDC now recommends that pregnant women in areas with active zika transmission, such as in the USVI, should either use condoms the right way every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy. Sexual transmission of dengue has not been confirmed, but it is theoretically possible.

Since both dengue and zika cases are currently present in the territory, all people, but especially pregnant women and their sexual partners, should enhance their efforts to reduce their risk of becoming infected.

Lastly, since people infected with zika or dengue can be bitten by uninfected mosquitoes that then can become infected and go on to infect other people (including pregnant women), they should follow the recommendations during the first few days of illness to reduce the risk of spreading the disease to others.

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