Zika suspected in death of patient in Grenada

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jul 8, CMC – Grenada says it is yet to determine whether one of two people who was being treated for Guillain-Barré syndrome died as a result of complications related to the mosquito-born Zika virus.

Health Minister Nicolas Steele confirmed the death of the patient at the General Hospital in the capital, but said it was too early to indicate whether the death was related to the virus.

“Persons can develop Guillain-Barré syndrome outside of having Zika. So right now what we can confirm is that the person was infected with the Zika virus (and) the person was receiving treatment for Guillain-Barré syndrome and the person died,” said Steele.

He said that further tests were being done to confirm that the Zika virus played a significant role in the death of the unidentified patient.

“Both patients were receiving treatment but one died and the other is doing much better,” said Steele, who had earlier this week said that government was paying EC$23,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) to treat a patient.

Health officials have explained that Guillain-Barré syndrome is an acute form of polyneuritis, often preceded by a respiratory infection, causing weakness and often paralysis of the limbs. It is a rare and serious condition of the peripheral nervous system.

It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system. The exact cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome is unknown. However, most people develop the condition shortly after having a viral or bacterial infection.

Steele said that to date Grenada has had nine confirm Zika cases and 30 suspected cases. He said that the suspect cases were of persons showing all the symptoms of the Zika virus and that health authorities here were awaiting confirmation.

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.

Since the start of the outbreak last year, Steele said he has been urging citizens to take the necessary precautions to avoid contracting the virus.

He said soon, the Ministry of Health will work with other stakeholders to strictly enforce the 2015 Anti-Litter legislation which provides for individuals and corporate bodies to be fined when they are found guilty of littering.

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