According to a report published in the Jamaica Gleaner today, the Jamaica Government is encouraging women in that country to delay becoming pregnant for the next six to 12 months as the zika virus (ZIKV) gets closer to the island.
The Ministry of Health is also urging pregnant women to take extra precaution to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes. ZIKV has been linked to microcephaly.
Microcephaly is an abnormal growth of the brain and stunting of the growth of the head of the foetus arising from infection in the first months of pregnancy. Babies who develop microcephaly in the womb may not live to full term, may be born prematurely, may be still born or may survive, but with life-long disability.
A number of cases have been reported in Brazil and this has triggered concerns.
According to the Gleaner, Jamaica’s Permanent Secretary in the health ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey, says while the evidence of a link between microcephaly and ZIKV are inconclusive at this stage, the local health authorities decided to issue the advisory to Jamaican women as a precautionary measure.
Noting that there is no specific treatment for ZIKV, Dr Harvey says it is critical that pregnant women do everything possible to avoid contracting the virus.
He emphasises that there could be severe outcomes for a pregnant woman who becomes infected with ZIKV.
Meanwhile, Health Minister, Horace Dalley, says the country’s health authorities are seeking to prevent any possible adverse outcome to pregnant women in Jamaica. The health ministry in the island has heightened its alert and is scaling up its vector control activities.
Guyana’s Health Minister, Dr George Norton last Thursday announced in the National Assembly that this country has one confirmed case of the Zika virus. He also disclosed that the Government is taking all the necessary steps to ensure that the situation on under control. (Excerpts from Jamaica Gleaner)