Belize still free of Zika; Ministry of Health holds sensitization meeting

Posted: February 9, 2016. 2:33 p.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Ministry of Health says that so far Belize continues to be free of the Zika virus.Three samples have been sent to the regional public health laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago. One has been returned negative for Zika as well as chikungunya and dengue fever; the others are pending. Zika Stroy

Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero explained that the negative case was of someone with a travel history to Honduras; of the pending cases, another lives in a high-risk area; and the third is a pregnant woman with fever and rash and the hope is that Zika can be ruled out.

This morning the Ministry’s officials met in Belize City to develop a sensitization plan which will be disseminated at the local regional level.

That message is largely one of prevention: avoid mosquitoes and get rid of places where they can breed.

Dr. Natalia Largaespada advised use of condoms by sexual partners after travel to Zika-positive areas; for those who want to be pregnant, wear protective clothing while having intercourse. There is not yet a direct proven link between Zika and the development of microcephaly in babies born to pregnant women as in Brazil – other countries, according to Dr. Manzanero, have not shown such a link.

The Aedes mosquito is primary carrier and symptoms are largely similar to dengue and chikungunya save for a red tint to the eyes.

Zika at present is considered the mildest of the three with least hospital time

Belize and it’s nearest neighboring States – Peten, Guatemala and Quintana Roo, Mexico – have managed to avoid a confirmed case so far.

As their budget was prepared before the outbreak became known, there are no special funds voted for Zika, however the Ministry will emphasize community cleanups and continued spraying across the country.

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