A baby and mother are presently receiving care at the hospital, as the Ministry of Health investigates whether there is a link to the baby’s birth defect and the Zika virus. The male infant was born on Friday 9th December with microcephaly – where a baby’s head and brain are abnormally small. Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sharon Belmar George, says during the year of 2016, Saint Lucia has recorded 5 microcephaly cases.
Zika Virus Disease is transmitted mainly by mosquitoes but recent information from global public health authorities has confirmed that the disease can also be transmitted sexually. Zika virus infection can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy. Though generally mild, the disease has been shown to cause serious complications (such as microcephaly) in some new-borns of infected mothers and Guillain Barre Syndrome in a few persons who have recently been infected with the Zika Virus.
The Zika Virus Disease is spread predominantly by mosquitoes, particularly those which breed in and around households. Therefore, individuals and members of their households are important in the ongoing national efforts to reduce the transmission of Zika. People are asked to conduct weekly inspections of their premises, both inside and outside, to identify and remove any items which can hold water thereby increasing the possibility of mosquito breeding. The Ministry of Health also reminds the public that personal protection to avoid mosquito bites is an effective prevention strategy to reduce the spread of the disease.