There are conflicting reports as to whether the Zika virus is in the island. According to the Ministry of Health, to date, there are no confirmed cases of Zik-V in Jamaica.
The Zika virus is spread from the bite of an infected Aedes aegyti mosquito, and has similar symptoms to Chikungunya, including mild to severe fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, weakness, and a rash. Other symptoms can include diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.
However, the Opposition Spokesperson on Health, Marlene Malahoo Forte in an interview with Loop News on Thursday, said a “credible source” has informed her that there is in fact at least one confirmed case of the virus. “I was reliably informed that there were confirmed cases of Zik-V,” Malahoo Forte asserted.
Malahoo Forte acknowledged the fact that the ministry has subsequently indicated that their tests had a negative reading. “The source is credible and there was no denial that there was, at minimum, the suspicion of Zik-V,” she told Loop News.
The Opposition senator alluded to the government’s handling of the Chikungunya epidemic, which many believe lacked an effective reaction from Minister Fenton Ferguson – and crippled the island in 2014.
Her statement comes as the Ministry of Health has sent a blood sample for further testing as it is unable to determine the likelihood of a Zik-V infection. The ministry, through an issued press release on Monday, launched joint-investigation into the sample taken from an individual – to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). “The sample will be tested for viruses, including dengue, chikungunya and zika.
We are taking the precaution to rule out these diseases, in particular the zika virus, which has never been identified in Jamaica nor the Latin American and Caribbean region outside of Brazil,” Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse declared. In light of the potential confirmation of the Zika virus, Malahoo Forte directed questions to the Ministry of Health. “Was the outbreak anticipated? And if so, what measures does the Health Ministry have in place?”