First Zika cases confirmed in Cayman

Two cases of imported Zika virus in the Cayman Islands have been confirmed by public health officials.

The mosquito-borne virus was contracted overseas by two female residents, Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said Tuesday.

The first patient had traveled June 15-22 to a country where there is an outbreak of Zika, Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said in a press release. The resident reported that she started experiencing symptoms on June 25, when she visited the Health Services Authority.

The second patient, a student who recently completed high school in a country with Zika cases, returned home on June 19. She reported onset of symptoms beginning on June 23 and sought medical attention on June 25.

Health officials did not name the countries where the women had traveled.

Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said there is no evidence of local transmission of Zika in the Cayman Islands.

Mosquito Research and Control Unit Director Bill Petrie said the unit is “monitoring the situation closely.”

Health officials are reminding the public that while Zika is mainly transmitted through Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, other modes of transmission, in particular, sexual transmission, have been documented.

“We cannot over-emphasize that all men returning from where local transmission of Zika virus is known to occur, should adopt safer sexual practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks after return,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said.

He advised anyone who develops Zika virus symptoms, which include fever, rash and/or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”) within two weeks of returning from countries with Zika virus cases, to consult a doctor and tell the physician about their travel history.

“We continue to caution everyone, especially women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, to be extra careful during their travels overseas where there is an outbreak,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said.

Zika is linked with microcephaly, a condition where the size of an infant’s head is smaller than normal because of slowed or incomplete brain development.

For advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and the Department of Environmental Health on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac. For more information on Zika, contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 or 244-2632.