NEW: ‘Cayman still Zika free,’ says Public Health Dept.

Cayman-linked case sexually transmitted by tourists

The Public Health Department Wednesday said the case of Zika linked to Cayman was not transmitted by local mosquitoes, but was sexually transmitted by a partner from St. Maarten.

Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said in a statement that a female tourist from the Netherlands met in Cayman with her partner in May. Both the man and woman exhibited mild Zika symptoms and she tested positive for the virus when she returned home.

Dr. Williams-Rodriguez, head of public health for Cayman said, “At this stage, taking into consideration her medical history and the visit from her partner from a country with a confirmed Zika virus outbreak, coupled with the fact that they stayed together for a period of one week after the onset of his symptoms, we conclude that this is a presumptive case of sexually transmitted Zika virus.”

In the written statement, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez notes, “I want to make it unequivocally clear that as of 7 June 2016, there are no confirmed cases of Zika virus in the Cayman Islands. I encourage all residents who have returned from an endemic country where there is an outbreak of the Zika virus and who present with symptoms, to contact their general practitioner.”

He continued, “Similarly, residents who have no travel history to any country endemic to the Zika virus but who experience symptoms, especially skin rash, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and fever, should alert their general practitioner at once.”

Zika is transmitted through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and can also be passed from men to women through sexual intercourse. The Public Health Department warns, “All men returning from where local transmission of Zika virus is known to occur are encouraged to adopt safer sexual practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks after return.”

Zika is active in most countries in the Caribbean, and all of South and Central America.

See Thursday’s Cayman Compass for more details on the Cayman-linked Zika case.