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Zika case confirmed in Bermuda

Aedes Albopictus, the vector that could potentially carry the Zika virus (File photograph)

The Department of Health has reported the first confirmed case of imported Zika virus in Bermuda.

The announcement yesterday comes a little more than a week since the ministry revealed that three people suspected of having Zika after returning from overseas were being tested for the virus.

A government statement said that the person was known to the Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit and Vector Control as a suspected case.

“As with all suspected cases of Zika and other diseases spread by mosquitoes, control measures are put in place at the time of initial testing,” a government spokeswoman said.

“The Department of Health does not wait until lab test results confirming Zika are received; the department acts immediately. The Vector Control team increases its routine efforts to reduce mosquito-breeding sites within a three-mile radius of the home.”

Jeanne Atherden, the health minister, said there has been no local spread of Zika virus reported in Bermuda.

Director of the Department of Health David Kendell added: “Bermuda is not isolated from international outbreaks of disease and we all have a part to play in keeping Bermuda healthy.

“Unlike other jurisdictions, our Vector Control team has been controlling our mosquito population for decades. That said, the public’s assistance is very helpful in lowering the risk of transmission.”

The Royal Gazette asked the Bermuda Government whether the person with the Zika virus was male or female, and what country the individual had travelled to Bermuda from. However we were told: “The Department of Health is committed to informing Bermuda’s public about any further confirmed Zika cases in Bermuda. However, the Department will not give further details about the identity, location, health status or travel history of an individual patient in order to protect the individual’s privacy.”

The public is advised to use an EPA-approved insect repellent every time you go outside, drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed, wear long sleeves and pants when outside.

The ministry urged residents to protect their sexual partner for six months after travel in a Zika area by using condoms correctly and consistently. Pregnant women should also avoid unnecessary travel to areas with known Zika virus, and if travel is necessary, take careful precautions against mosquito bites and sexual transmission. The public can report mosquito-breeding sites as well as tip standing water around homes and offices on a weekly basis. If bitten, call Vector Control on 278-5397.

For review of a full and comprehensive Zika virus fact sheet, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”