The Central American Integration System moves to action as Zika virus continues to spread
Posted: February 3, 2016. 5:55 p.m. CST.
By BMG Staff: The Zika outbreak continues to spread, as reports are that at least four more countries have reported infections in the Americas since Monday.
Belize is the only country in Central America that has not reported any case of Zika, but the country does not have the necessary facilities to run tests and only received word last week that a laboratory in Panama that is willing to help.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the Zika infection has reportedly been spread through sexual contact in Dallas, Texas. The patient reportedly did not travel to any infected area but the partner did.
Under these circumstances, on February 2nd, the Central American Integration System (SICA) held a regional video conference to “coordinate regional positions and actions to ameliorate the number of infections and agree on a sustained action plan to work towards the eradication of the Zika Virus”, stated a government press release. Pablo Marin, Minister Health, headed the Belize Delegation participated in the conference.
According to the government, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) will provide all resources to assist the region in the response to the virus, eradicating it and its link to microcephaly, a brain deformation in newborns of women infected with the virus. It appears too that research has begun to
indentify if there is any link between the virus and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
And while preparations are underway regionally, in Belize the Ministry of Health is finalizing a national response plan. It has also started a country-wide campaign by spraying and encouraging the removal of possible stagnant water that are breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the virus.
The Zika virus has now spread to some 25 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Health officials in some affected countries have asked women to avoid getting pregnant while pregnant women have been advised against travelling to infected countries. Only today, the American Red Cross is asking people to avoid donating blood if they travelled to Latin America or the Caribbean in the past 28 days since the virus is believed to remain in the blood for less than 28 days.
And as health officials in the region take action, in Brazil where the virus has seen an unprecedented spread, 404 cases of microcephaly have been confirmed from 4,000 reported.
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