The US Virgin Islands Department of Health confirmed two additional cases of Zika on St. Croix, bringing the total to 6 cases. This is not unexpected, and the Department of Health expects that there will continue to be more positive cases in the future.
In addition, on March 1st, the Department of Health is reporting 4 new confirmed cases of dengue, bringing the total for 2016 to 7. There have not been any cases of dengue in the Territory since January 2015, when there were 19 suspected and 3 laboratory confirmed as probable cases.
Both Zika and dengue are potentially dangerous for pregnant women. Zika may be associated with birth defects (microcephaly), and pregnant women are at higher risk of severe complications from dengue fever. Any pregnant woman experiencing symptoms should see their healthcare provider for evaluation. They should also avoid ibuprofen, aspirin, or aspirin-containing drugs until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage. Pregnant women who have a fever should be treated with acetaminophen (Paracetamol or Tylenol®.) as it is not associated with increased risk for hemorrhagic complications.
Zika has been confirmed to be transmitted sexually, and the CDC now recommends that pregnant women in areas with active Zika transmission, such as in the USVI, should either use condoms the right way every time they have sex or they should not have sex during the pregnancy. Sexual transmission of dengue has not been confirmed, but it is theoretically possible.
Since both dengue and Zika cases are currently present in the Territory, all people, but especially pregnant women and their sexual partners, should enhance their efforts to reduce their risk of becoming infected by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside and sleeping under a mosquito bed net.
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