Barbados Today:-Health authorities say a total of 23 pregnant women have contracted the Zika virus here, including two suspected cases of congenital syndrome, which causes severe microcephaly or abnormally small head size in developing babies.
The Ministry of Health has also revealed that so far this year there have been four cases of Guillain Barre Syndrome –– a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.
In all the island has recorded 625 suspected cases and 30 confirmed cases of Zika as at October 8.
However, the ministry said three of the confirmed cases occurred last year and the other 27 this year.
“The ministry continues to work closely with the Caribbean Public Health Agency on laboratory confirmation of Zika cases,” it said in a statement issued by the Barbados Government Information Service this evening.
The mosquito-borne disease, which broke out in the middle of 2015, has been proven to cause birth defects in new-borns and according to new research, also has some extremely unwanted side-effects for males.
Zika, for which standard symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis, has been shown to shrink men’s testicles. Additionally, initial studies suggest that it also lowers testosterone in males, according to scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine, who found that male mice’s had shrunk to a tenth of their normal size after three weeks of being infected.
The Ministry of Health here is therefore warning Barbadians to do everything in their power to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which has also been responsible for several recent outbreaks of dengue fever.
The ministry said outbreaks occured in January, February, August and September, with 467 confirmed dengue cases reported as at October 8, along with 1,378 suspected cases.
This compares to 70 confirmed cases, 309 suspected cases and one death for the same period last year.
“Householders and property owners are advised to check their premises weekly for possible mosquito breeding sites and to make sure that containers, such as buckets, small plastic containers and drums, are either covered or disposed of in a proper manner,” the ministry advised.
It said the Vector Control Unit was paying particular attention to high risk areas where suspected cases of these mosquito-borne diseases have been reported, fogging these locations daily.
Members of the public who require additional information on how to handle vector control issues may contact the Ministry of Health’s Help Line at 467-9500.