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Dec 2, 2015

ZIKA Confirmed in Central America

There are cases of Zika in Central America. Today, the Ministry of Health confirmed that there have been three persons with the vector-borne illness in Guatemala and El Salvador. The virus is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito that also carries the dengue and chikungunya viruses. Zika was initially detected in the Caribbean in mid-November and since then; the ministry has been monitoring the patterns and symptoms of the virus. News Five asked Interim Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero, for an update.

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Interim Director of Health Services

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Well we were alerted of Zika when it was initially documented outside of Asia; the path it came from…I believe it was the end of last year. But remember we were able grappling with trying to find out Chikungunya. There are three different viruses—Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika—brought about by the same vector, as you have rightly said. We do know now that Guatemala has reported a case; it seems to be an imported case, and El Salvador has reported two cases towards the middle of last week, so they already have autochthonous transmission. We haven’t documented a case; it may be a little bit difficult for us to do that because we would have to send our sample outside for confirmation and also because Zika might not be the first virus you are screening for. You might be screening for Dengue, Chikungunya and then Zika. Fortunately, I think Zika is not as aggressive as other viruses; it doesn’t seem to have that clinical characteristic that Chikungunya has; however, we are following what has been documented in Brazil where Zika has been linked to microcephalic cases starting to come out. So we are following those epidemiological trends. Acknowledge that it would be difficult for us to do our first detection, but I think it is only a matter of time.”

 

In the meantime, Doctor Manzanero says that the ministry is taking on similar vector control measures in which prevention is better. 

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