The Public Health Department late Monday confirmed the first locally transmitted case of Zika in the Cayman Islands. Previously, there had been seven documented cases that were contracted outside of Cayman, but public health officials confirmed that a man in George Town is the first person confirmed to become infected with Zika in the islands.
Cayman joins most of the rest of the Caribbean, along with Central America, South America and the U.S. state of Florida to have local transmission of the virus. Zika has similar symptoms to dengue and chikungunya and only about one fifth of those infected get sick, but it can cause severe birth defects in babies born to infected mothers.
Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, Cayman’s head of public health, said in a press release, “With the rapid and ongoing transmission of the Zika virus around the world, it is not an alarming fact that local transmission has reached our shores. However, now that it has, this is even more reason for each and every one to play their part in ensuring that the spread is highly contained.”
Zika is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in fresh standing water near homes and other developed areas.
“While our partners at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) continue to do an exemplary job using scientific and evidence based combat measures, simple tasks such as emptying water filled tyres or containers of standing water, and protecting one’s self from being bitten by mosquitoes both locally and during travels will help to keep both imported and locally acquired cases of Zika at a minimum when compared to the global and regional situation,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said.
Symptoms of the Zika virus include a mild fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and headache, lasting on average from two to seven days.
The Cayman Compass will update this story as more information becomes available.