The Caribbean island of Saint Lucia reported its first autochthonous (locally-acquired) confirmed cases of Zika virus infection on Apr. 7. This brings the total to 34 countries and territories reporting local, vector-borne transmission of Zika virus in the Region of the Americas since 2015.

Saint Lucia map Image/ M.Minderhoud
Saint Lucia map
Image/ M.Minderhoud

According to health officials, the patients, a female, 28 and a male, 25, are stable and are being treated according to the recommended protocol of care. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) confirmed the cases.

The Ministry of Health has indicated that the  individuals do not have a history of recent travel to a Zika affected country.

An outbreak investigation team has been deployed to conduct a full epidemiological investigation into the cases, and all efforts are being undertaken to limit the risk of further transmission.

The Ministry of Health reminds the public to adopt and maintain measures to reduce exposure to Zika. This includes storing water in tightly sealed containers to avoid mosquito breeding, using insect repellents and long clothing to prevent the exposure of skin to mosquito bites, conducting routine checks of households for potential and active breeding sites, and the immediate and appropriate disposal of breeding sites.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), some 200,000 suspected and confirmed Zika cases have been reported in the Western hemisphere, including 10 deaths.

In related Zika prevention news, PAHO has collaborated with Sesame Street to produce a public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness and share critical information to reduce the spread of the mosquito-borne virus.

Additional PSA’s are being produced in Spanish and English, and in Portuguese for the Brazilian public.