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Apr 8, 2016

Is Belize Still ZIKA-free?

Is the ZIKA virus now present in Belize?  According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the recent transmission of the disease may have originated in Belize when an American couple traveled here in mid-March.  This was conveyed to the Ministry of Health on Wednesday in an email alert from the U.S. International Health Regulations National Focal Point.  While this does not confirm that it is the first case of the vector borne virus in Belize, the Ministry of Health remains in contact with C.D.C., as well as the local Pan American Health Organization Office.  This, according to Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, is part of an effort to launch a proper epidemiological investigation.


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

On the phone: Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“The first alert that we got came to my email on Wednesday.  As you know, Belize, as all other countries, is tied to what’s called the International Health Regulations, which means any health or sanitary alert is distributed to focal points in real time.  As I am the head focal point for that, we got an email alert stating that they had identified a ZIKA sample that’s positive from the twenty-third of March from somebody who had traveled to Belize from March fourteenth to the nineteenth.  That’s all the details we got, we have no further information so we decided to, well we emailed them immediately asking them for further information, in order for us to be able to launch an investigation and give validity to that note that we had gotten via email.”


Isani Cayetano

“Are there now any measures that are being taken by the ministry as a result of this particular situation, if I may?”


On the Phone: Marvin Manzanero

“Yes.  What we did from that email is we did initially an internal review of our surveillance and our alert systems to see if we were actually picking up any cases, for example: fever and rash or anything that was out of the norm.  We didn’t find any.  We did alert the PAHO officer, we alerted our regional managers and even though we had no further information we did a press release late yesterday because CDC was stating that they were going to place an advisory on their website in terms of Belize.”

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