Two new zika cases confirmed in USVI

The US Virgin Islands Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed one additional case of the zika virus on St Croix and one in St Thomas. The total confirmed zika cases is now 16; 14 of which are on St Croix and two on St. Thomas.

“Today’s report shows that we must continue to protect ourselves from mosquito-borne illnesses,” Commissioner Nominee, Dr Michelle Davis stated in response to the updated report. “With Carnival, Jump Up, Ironman-Triathalon, and so many other outdoor events this week, it is important to wear repellent and protective clothing.”

This advice is especially true for pregnant women, as zika can be passed to her unborn baby and can cause serious birth defects in babies of women who had zika virus while pregnant.

“The Department of Health offers free testing and services for pregnant women to prevent zika infection and prevent mosquitoes from living in their homes,” explained Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Jones.

The Department of Health will also inspect the homes of pregnant women for mosquitoes and mosquito larvae and provide treatment, as needed in the homes of those pregnant women who receive testing.
Pregnant women are also eligible to receive a free zika prevention kit from 14 healthcare clinics across the US Virgin Islands. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently delivered 750 kits to St Croix, St John, and St Thomas. Each kit includes educational materials in English and Spanish, EPA-registered insect repellent, permethrin spray repellent for treating clothing, condoms to avoid sexual transmission of zika, treatment tabs for preventing mosquitoes from breeding in standing water, and a bed net.

Zika is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

People can take the following steps to prevent getting Zika: wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.

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