The Caribbean island of Martinique has become the latest country or territory in the Americas to report autochthonous, or local transmission of Zika virus, according to a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Epidemiological report this week.

Martinique Image/M.Minderhoud

This makes the island in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea the 11th place in the Americas to report the mosquito borne virus in 2015 and the 12th to report local transmission in total.

According to Dr. Joy St. John, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA “In the last decade, the Caribbean has been wrestling with wave after wave of vector borne diseases. During the last two years the Region has seen unrelenting outbreaks of Chikungunya, and more recently Zika.” She said this at the opening of a Workshop to Develop a Regional Network on Surveillance and Diagnosis of Emerging Vector-borne Diseases in the Caribbean earlier this month.

Zika fever is a disease caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV), transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Aedes. This virus was first isolated in 1947 from rhesus monkey samples, in the Zika forest in Uganda. The virus was named after the region where it was first collected.

Zika virus infection may present with few or no symptoms. In general, disease symptoms are mild and short-lasting (2-7 days). Where present, they are similar to symptoms of dengue and chikungunya, and may include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), retro-orbital pain, headache, weakness, rash, swelling of the lower limbs and to a lesser extent vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

There is no specific medicine or treatment for Zika virus infection.


Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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