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Zika takes root in northern Belize

GeneralZika takes root in northern Belize

BELIZE CITY, Wed. May 10, 2017–Roughly a year ago, Belize confirmed its first case of Zika, an emerging mosquito-borne disease which quickly attained pandemic status. By September 2016, there were only 42 confirmed cases, but as many as 600 suspected cases within the span of those 4 months.

The status of Zika in Belize has been off the radar for several months, but this week, the Belize Ministry of Health reported that there had been 124 confirmed cases of Zika in Belize since 2017 began.

This reflects an upsurge of Zika cases in northern Belize around February 2017, with 94 cases cropping up in Corozal and a further 23 cases appearing in Orange Walk.

Lorena Perez, Surveillance Officer, Epidemiology Unit in the Ministry of Health, told our newspaper that the number has since been tapering off.

The Belize District, which reported the initial case of Zika in 2016, reported 4 confirmed cases and Cayo, the second district in Belize to confirm the presence of Zika, reported only 3 cases.

There were no confirmed cases of Zika reported for the southern districts of Toledo and Stann Creek.

Of the 124 confirmed cases reported of a total of 320 sent to Mexico (under the Belize Mexico Arbo-virus Project) for testing during the first 18 weeks of surveillance, which ended last week, three were confirmed in pregnant women, whose cases are being monitored for possible complications, such as microcephaly and other related congenital problems. There were a total of 26 suspected cases among pregnant women.

So far, Belize has not reported any case of Zika-related birth defects.

The revelations are being made as the Belize Ministry of Health joins regional partners in celebrating Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week, being observed May 8 to 12, under the theme: “Fight the bite, destroy mosquito breeding sites.”

As a part of its observance this year, the Ministry of Health is directing campaigns in places like Belize City and Corozal.

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