Confirmed Bahamas Zika case contracted outside of the country

NASSAU, Bahamas, Aug. 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Bahamas Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of the Zika virus in The Bahamas, noting that the single documented case was contracted outside of the country.

Minister of Health Dr. Perry Gomez said the patient, a Bahamian man, contracted the virus during a recent visit to Jamaica. Bahamian health officials confirm that no locally transmitted cases have been confirmed.

Gomez said a sample was taken from the patient and he tested positive for Zika on August 9. The patient is being monitored by health officials.

He added, "The patient has been treated for associated symptoms and is recovering."

Director General in the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Joy Jibrilu said the health and safety of visitors to the country remains a high priority. To date, no visitors to The Bahamas have been infected.

"We are working with our industry partners and local health officials to ensure that every effort is made to monitor the virus and prevent further cases," she said.

Among those initiatives, is the Tourism and Health Safety Program, which was recently launched in six major hotels on New Providence and Paradise Island.

The program aims to monitor guests and provide information to those who feel they may have symptoms of any illness.

Gomez said heightened surveillance activities for the Zika virus continue and that the required public health and environmental protocols are being conducted.

Additionally, source reduction and activities to decrease the mosquito population such as treatment of water sources and fogging are ongoing.

Other activities include conducting Zika educational sessions for public and private health care providers.

Family Island visits with associated town meetings, school presentations, radio and television appearances and airing of public service announcements in both English and Creole are also occurring.

The Zika virus is transmitted primarily through the bite of the aedes aegypti mosquito. However, the virus is also spread from mother to baby during pregnancy and during sexual intercourse.

Health Officials advise anyone travelling to The Bahamas who feel they may have symptoms of the virus to contact the National Disease Surveillance Unit at 502-4776, 502-4790, 376-3809 or 376-4705.

Visitors to The Bahamas receive educational pamphlets about the virus at all ports of entry. The pamphlet includes symptoms, prevention tips and contact information for the Ministry of Health.

Hotels and guest properties throughout The Islands of The Bahamas are also continuing their proactive measures.

Proactive measures include:

  • Providing staff and guests with information on ZIKV so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms, how ZIKV is transmitted and how it can be prevented.
  • Having insect repellant available to visitors.
  • Avoiding storing water in outdoor containers to prevent them from becoming mosquito-breeding sites.
  • Covering water tanks or reservoirs so that mosquitoes do not get in.

  • Avoiding the build-up of garbage, which can act as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Putting garbage in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.

  • Uncovering and unblocking gutters and drains to release stagnant water.

All travelers are advised to:

  • Stay informed about the ZIKV situation in countries they are travelling to.
  • Use insect repellents on exposed skin. Insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535 are the most effective and safe when used according to the label. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
  • Where possible, wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes to minimize exposed skin.
  • When indoors use air conditioning and keep the doors and windows closed, unless they are screened, to keep out mosquitoes. If this is not possible, sleep under mosquito nets to prevent bites.

What should you do if you feel sick and think you may have Zika?

  • Consult a healthcare professional if you are feeling ill, especially if you have a fever. If you have returned home, make sure to tell them about your travel.
  • Use acetaminophen or paracetamol to treat fever and pain.
    Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
  • A person infected with ZIKV will have the virus in their blood for the first week of infection. The virus can be passed on to other mosquitoes if they bite you while you are carrying the virus. Therefore, be especially careful to prevent mosquito bites during the first week to avoid spreading the disease.

Travelers are encouraged to visit for any updates on Zika.

CONTACT: Media Contact: Travis Cartwright-Carroll ( 242) 397-2790 Anita Johnson-Patty ( 954) 888-1102

Source:Bahamas Ministry of Tourism