Responding to a request from the Ministry of Health in Cabo Verde, WHO is sending a team to Cabo Verde, with joint participation of experts from WHO AFRO and the Institut Pasteur, Dakar.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

Although the number of cases of Zika in Cabo Verde is declining, the Minister of Health announced on 15 March the first case of microcephaly. Investigations are underway to determine if this case of microcephaly is linked to Cabo Verde’s outbreak of Zika virus. Among the 7 490 suspected cases of Zika virus reported between 21 October 2015 and 6 March 2016, 165 involve pregnant women, from which 44 women have already delivered without any complications or abnormalities. Between 29 February and 6 March 2016, 33 suspected cases of Zika were registered on 2 of 9 islands in Cabo Verde, in Santiago island and São Filipe municipality (Fogo island).

There has been no circulation of the Zika virus on the islands of Sal, São Vicente, Santo Antão, São Nicolau and Brava. Furthermore there have been no cases reported on the islands of Boa Vista and Maio since mid-February.

The team includes epidemiologists, laboratory experts, maternal health specialists and communication staff who will collaborate with the Ministry of Health to evaluate the reported case of microcephaly and to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of the outbreak and its impact. It will also identify potential remaining gaps and to support the country’s response and investigations.

The team will be building on the work already underway by the health authorities in the country. The first group departed for Cabo Verde on 17 March to provide laboratory technical support, including further laboratory investigation and enhancing laboratory diagnostics capacity. Other team members will review surveillance data and systems tracking Zika virus and its complications, assess and document vector control processes, review interventions for managing pregnancy in the context of Zika virus, and support outreach to communities and the public to raise awareness .