First case of zika confirmed in St. Martin

MARIGOT, St. Martin (Daily Herald January 20th 2016):—The first case of the zika virus in French St. Martin has been biologically confirmed to health authority Agence Regional de Santé (ARS) of Guadeloupe, St. Martin and St. Barths by a laboratory in Marseilles, with another case confirmed in Guadeloupe.

The victims are a man residing in St. Martin and a girl in Grand Terre, Guadeloupe. St. Barths also has three suspected cases registered.

The French Institute for Public Health, L’Insitut de Veille Sanitaire (INVS), which already has published two bulletins on zika in the Antilles-Guiana region, said, “In all likelihood, the virus is going to spread rapidly throughout the Caribbean.”

Zika was confirmed in French Guiana and Martinique at the end of December. Martinique has 47 biologically confirmed cases and 610 suspected cases. The virus is better contained in French Guiana for the moment, where 15 local cases are confirmed and 12 imported.

Zika is transmitted by the Aedes Egypti mosquito, the same mosquito that causes dengue. The symptoms associated with zika have been likened to a milder form of dengue.

ARS reminds the public that preventative measures to take for zika are the same as those for dengue and chikungunya. The priority is to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes by throwing out stagnant water in flower pots, old car tyres, covering cisterns, etc.

Long pants and long-sleeved clothing should be worn to prevent mosquito bites, and mosquito repellent should be used liberally. Mosquito nets around the beds indoors also can help.

Senator Guillaume Arnell expressed his concern to Minister of Health Marisol Tourraine on Tuesday over the almost certain proliferation of a zika epidemic in the Caribbean, urging her to ensure health authorities in the Antilles-Guiana region are fully mobilised for an epidemic.

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