There has been a marked increase in the number of suspected cases of the Zika virus reported to Ministry of Health. Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry,Dr. Winston De La Haye, (acting), says as of Monday, the Ministry has received 3,746 notifications from medical practitioners.
He said 2,524 people met the criteria for possibly having Zik V, however, the number of confirmed cases stands at 44, with 31 being females and 13 males.
He said the Virology Laboratory at the University of the West Indies, Mona, is now conducting tests on almost 1,000 samples.
Dr. De La Haye said the Ministry was now closely monitoring more than 200 pregnant women suspected to be carrying the Zika virus. The virus can cause birth defects in babies.
"The number of suspected cases is now at 231. Still, only seven confirmed for those in their second trimester, meaning anywhere from about three to six months pregnancy; and two of them, more in the end stages of their third trimester - somewhere between six and nine months," he disclosed.
Dr. De La Haye has also defended the measures implemented by the Ministry of Health to combat the spread of the Zika virus.
The Opposition People's National Party has criticised the government over its handling of the spread of the virus, claiming not enough is being done. Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell says the Government should consider making abortion services available to pregnant women who are confirmed to be carrying a baby with microcephaly.
Campbell says women should be given the option to abort babies likely to be born with microcephaly, although Jamaican laws criminalise abortion except in certain circumstances.
Dr. De La Haye says the Ministry has been implementing measures to fight the virus. He explained that the Ministry has ordered a second PCR machine dedicated to testing for Zik V at the Virology Laboratory. In addition, the Ministry has also increased the number of persons trained to destroy mosquito breeding sites.
He added that all suspected pregnant women are referred to high risk clinics.
And Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton, who updated Parliament on the Zik V battle, Tuesday afternoon, was chided by Dr. Dayton Campbell for failing to disclose the number of suspected Guillain-Barré cases detected in Jamaica.
Dr. Campbell warned that Guillain Barre should not be taken lightly as it could be fatal.
However, Dr. De La Haye said that in terms of neurological complications, the number of notified cases as it relates to the Guillain-Barré is 55. However, not all the suspected cases are related to the Zika virus.
"When we sit and sift through for those who meet the criteria, it's nine in total; of which only one has been Zik V-positive and three negative (while) we still have results pending for five persons," Dr. De La Haye explained.
Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness, and sometimes, paralysis.
Last modified onWednesday, 20 July 2016 08:05
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