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Apr 14, 2016

Ministry of Health Continues to Probe for ZIKA in Belize

The Ministry of Health is working overtime in southern Belize where samples are being collected by personnel to be sent for testing at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) laboratory in Trinidad. The data gathering activity is being conducted to determine the presence of ZIKA in Belize.  Despite the notice sent by the Centers for Disease Control last week, proof that the vector-borne illness is indeed in Belize remains inconclusive. But the ministry has said that there are two suspected cases in Stann Creek and Toledo Districts and a third person of interest in the Cayo District. According to Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, the team was collecting samples in Dangriga today.

 

On the Phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“The team that has been out in the field from last week Saturday, elements of that team went back into the Dangriga area today.  They were there yesterday and they had been there on Tuesday in the Toledo District.  I don’t have the report on what has transpired through today but I believe that they were going to be drawing more samples for any suspect cases today.  And these are all linked to what we believe could be potential initial cases in Belize.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is this a protracted exercise in the sense that the entire country is being covered for specimens?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“It is protracted to the scant information that CDC provided which means that based on what was given to us we tried to establish links.  So of course you can’t do an exercise across the country as a blanket kind of exercise.  We are doing the activities based on links that we have been able to establish from what we feel were the two patients that CDC had declared as ZIKA positive.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you inform us when you’re going to have a press conference on this matter?”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“Yeah, we had initially thought of doing it today because we normally don’t like doing it on a Friday because is there is any damage control from data that may be wrongly interpreted then we normally can’t do that on a weekend.  We are perhaps going to have to do that next week, sometime in the middle of the week, hopefully by then we would have had the initial results from CARPHA.  Nonetheless, the efforts that we had established before the ZIKA situation came into the picture continues and the spraying, the giving out of educational elements those continue.  Those really haven’t stopped from the beginning of the year.”

 

On Wednesday, the Center for Disease Control confirmed that zika is linked to birth defects. It is a matter of grave concern in many countries where zika is present and women are being asked to defer pregnancy. 

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