The Ministry of Health of Belize held a press conference on Tuesday, September 27, 2016, where it was confirmed that Belize has 46 cases of Zika infection, 581 suspected cases of which 305 have been screened for the virus.
These cases puts Belize on alert, even more so as six pregnant women have been confirmed to be infected with the virus (5 in Cayo & 1 in Belize). Pregnant women infected with Zika is linked to babies born with the birth defect Microcephaly. a serious condition where babies are born with abnormally small heads, which can cause lifelong developmental problems.
Breakdown of Zika in Belize
Belize District - 262 Suspected Cases 21 Positive Cases
Cayo District - 125 Suspected Cases 13 Positive Cases
Corozal District - 21 Suspected Cases 0 Positive Cases
Orange Walk District - 27 Suspected Cases 1 Positive Case
Stann Creek District - 45 Suspected Cases 3 Positive Cases
Toledo District - 100 Suspected Cases 7 Positive Cases
Unknown - 1 Suspected Case 1 Positive Case
*Corozal is the only district that has not recorded any positive case at this point.
Ministry of Health Press Conference
Three of the infected pregnant women have already given birth and so far there are no signs of microcephaly or other physical or neurological abnormalities in the babies. Health coordinators say that they will monitor these children for three years because those same complications can develop over time. There are three microcephalic cases in Belize, but are not linked to Zika, bu to other birth complications.
Dr. John Sosa, Neurologist at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital in Belize City explained a particular case to Belize City Media: "Again, when it comes to microcephaly, if we do not get our test in our pregnant women fast enough and sometimes women don't even present to a clinic for follow up. We have a case right now of a lady who is 17 with a baby who was born at 32 weeks pregnancy or premature with microcephaly and brain abnormalities suggestive of Zika. This person never did go to a health center and when she was sent here to the lab to do a Zika test, she never did go or go back to the clinic. so things like that can happen which is why we need to educate the public that it is important for them to do their prenatal care and if we send them for testing, it is important that they come and do our tests. People will fall through the cracks and we may have microcephaly to Zika unreported because we just don't know."
Health officials stress that women planning to get pregnant or are pregnant with symptoms of Zika need to go for regular doctor checkup's. It is advised that pregnant women showing signs of Zika get at least three ultra sounds throughout the pregnancy so doctors can monitor and detect any abnormalities in the fetus as it matures. Also, pregnant women are advised to use condoms when having sex with their partners to avoid spreading the virus since it can be contracted sexually.
Mosquito spraying is being conducted on a daily basis (at least twice) in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and the Zika virus has been confirmed endemic to the island of Caye Caulker. Click Here to Read More.