According to reports from media houses in Barbados, the Ministry of Health has revealed that three pregnant women in Barbados have contracted the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness which has been linked to birth defects.
The latest results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) bring the number of confirmed cases in the island to seven.
The ministry said in a statement that the three women have been notified of the results and have been counselled. “Specialized obstetrics care will also be provided to monitor the progress of their pregnancies,” it added.
There have been thousands of cases in Brazil of microcephaly – a rare condition in which the heads and brains of infants are unusually small – and other abnormalities, in babies born to women who were infected with the Zika virus while pregnant.
According to Brazilian health authorities, more than 3,500 microcephaly cases were reported in Brazil between October 2015 and last month.
But the Barbados health officials have echoed the sentiments of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the suspected link is still under investigation and the relationship between the virus and microcephaly has not been established.
“The situation is still evolving and information is being updated regularly. The Ministry of Health will continue to roll out its response based on the local, regional and international experience,” the statement said.
“As a proactive response, the Ministry has developed and disseminated guidelines to guide general practitioners, obstetricians and other health care providers in the clinical management of women who have the Zika virus during pregnancy.”
The Ministry of Health said the guidelines were developed with the full cooperation and input from the Obstetrics and Paediatrics Departments at the country’s only public hospital, Queen Elizabeth Hospital. (Excerpts from Caribbean360.com)