Zika in Haiti and Puerto Rico
While experts say it is just a matter of time before the Zika virus enters Dominican territory, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) is still excluding the DR from the list of 14 countries where it has evidence of cases of the virus, namely Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname and Venezuela. The virus is spread by the same Aedes mosquito species that transmits dengue fever and chikungunya.
According to the CDC, the most common symptoms of the Zika disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
Studies are in process, but initial research in Brazil and Hawaii (USA) suggests that the virus could cause microcephaly in babies if the mother is bitten during the first three months of gestation. Travelers who are or may become pregnant are advised to take strict measures to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes.
Where has Zika virus been found?
Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks had been identified in countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries in the Americas. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case.
Locally-transmitted Zika virus has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in returning travelers. With the recent outbreaks in the Pacific Islands and South America, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.
Not in the DR but Zika has been detected in Haiti. Officials are working to coordinate efforts to stop the
virus from entering the DR.
Officials aim to halt zika virus at ports, airports, border crossings
Health authorities ask women to delay getting pregnant over Zika threat
Santo Domingo.- Health Minister Altagracia Guzman on Wednesday asked women in the Dominican Republic to postpone getting pregnant this year due to the potential impact of the Zika virus on newborns.
The advice was given during a meeting of the National Commission for the Control of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, where the minister talked about the clearer relationship between the virus and the incidence of babies being born with abnormally small skulls, a condition known as microcephaly, Diario Libre reported.
Guzman also announced that 27 samples from different patients had been sent to the United States for testing to determine if they are cases of the Zika virus. The minister asked pregnant women to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellants that do not cause undesirable effects on a fetus.
Babies who develop microcephaly in the womb may not live to full term, may be born prematurely, may be stillborn, or may survive but with lifelong disability.