Late yesterday, Monday, May 16, 2016, the Ministry of Health announced the first confirmed case of the Zika virus in Belize with the infected individual being a Belizean national.
Fortunately, the virus is not widespread and only this one case has been confirmed to date. In a press release to the country’s tourism stakeholders, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) asked them to continue keeping guests aware of the risks associated with this virus and encourage the use of proper precautionary measures to avoid Zika transmission.
“We will continue to monitor the works and information from public health officials locally, regionally and globally, to share with you in order to ensure that our visitors have the information they need to protect themselves,” stated the message to stakeholders in the industry.
The BTB is distributing information on the virus to stakeholders that includes helpful information for their guests, key messages that can be used when responding to guests who inquire, and helpful strategies they can take to help limit the spread of the virus.
The Ministry of Health confirms the first Zika case documented in Belize.
With all the positive preventative methods taken by Belize, it took the Zika virus much longer to enter the country. Zika has made its way through most of South America, all of Central America and up to Mexico and the US. Belize was fortunate to have kept the virus at bay for so long.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has returned the results of samples sent to their laboratory from a heightened surveillance being carried out across the country. Of the samples sent to CARPHA thus far, one positive result was received last week.
An immediate investigation was launched and several actions were simultaneously initiated to minimize and contain a potential outbreak. The investigation continues, and the Zika Plan is being followed in light of this case which is from Belize City. The patient is a Belizean national.
The Ministry says it will continue to be actively engaged with the community to minimize impact and we continue to ask the community to do everything possible to assist the Ministry and our partners to reduce mosquito breeding sites such as discarding buckets, old tires and other containers that may hold water.
The Ministry of Health will share more on this case and other relevant information once we have completed the investigation. The heightened surveillance continues across the country.