Three Cases Of Zika Virus Confirmed In Samoa

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Public urged to take care to protect themselves from mosquitoes

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 27, 2016) – The Ministry of Health has confirmed three cases of the Zika virus in Samoa.

The confirmation came in a Zika Virus Situation Report issued by the government yesterday.

"During the dengue virus (DENV) outbreak, there were suspicions that Zika virus (ZIKV) was also circulating in the community," the report reads.

"Since then there have been three confirmed ZIKV cases out of 40 specimens taken in two separate batches in September and October, 2015."

The Ministry did not reveal the details about the patients and whether they have been treated.

But the Ministry urges everyone to take extra care.

"Everyone is asked to educate themselves on ZIKV and avoid getting sick," a statement from the Ministry said.

"This is especially focused on pregnant mothers and Ante-natal clinic staff and Clinicians are asked to take note and advice on ZIKV illness, due to the Brazil experience."

The ‘Brazil experience’ refers to reports that an outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil last year has been linked to birth defects (microcephaly).

The Ministry of Health said more information is required to substantiate the claim.

As for the Zika virus, the infection is a mild febrile mosquito-borne viral illness, transmitted by the bite of certain Aedes mosquito species. It is a flavivirus closely related to the dengue virus. It was first isolated in 1947 from rhesus monkey in the Zika forest of Uganda, in Africa.

"As you are aware, Arboviral outbreaks with CHIKV, DENV and ZIKV have been circulating in the Pacific Islands and beyond for a number of years now.

"It had been identified in Yap state in 2007; French Polynesia 2013 and New Caledonia in 2014; in 2015 it had been in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji."

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