September 30, 2016

Public Health Ministry suspicious of new virus

– samples sent for testing
The Public Health Ministry is suspicious of a new virus coming into play and hopes that

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton

samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) could give some confirmation.
Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton told members of the media on Friday that a large number of doctors have related that they have come across varying symptoms that do not correspond with those of the Zika virus.
He said this may indicate that the Ministry could very well have another virus on its hands. While he could not give the name of the suspected virus, he said the complaints from doctors are many.
Norton said the Ministry would only be able to identify or pronounce with some amount of certainty after laboratory tests make some confirmation.
He said the Ministry has already begun this process by sending samples to CARPHA for testing.
Meanwhile, giving an update on the status of the Zika virus here, Norton said that there are still five confirmed cases. According to him, those patients are also being quarantined.
Late last month, Dr Norton had reported that Government had identified someone who would be sent to the CARPHA to be trained in identifying the Zika virus.
While there has been no indication that there has been a widespread transmission of the virus, Dr Norton said there are a number of persons who may have the virus, as they display signs and symptoms that are closely associated with it. However, since Guyana lacks trained personnel in its medical institutions to detect the virus, the suspected cases are not promptly detected.
According to Dr Norton, the level of Zika in Guyana will be known after the country is equipped with the essentials to identify the cases and work through a broad partnership to ensure that there is no spread of the mosquito-borne virus.
During the 2016 National Budget debate, former Culture Minister, Dr Frank Anthony had lambasted the Public Health Ministry, explaining that reports from several doctors at medical institutions in Guyana have indicated that there have been a number of patients displaying signs and symptoms that are closely related to the Zika virus. Dr Anthony said that the virus was more rampant than the public was being informed.
The first case of the Zika virus was recorded earlier in January in a woman, 27, who resided in Rose Hall, Berbice, and Covent Garden, East Bank Demerara. Further, a woman who travelled from Guyana to the United States was subsequently diagnosed with Zika. She was one of two additional cases recorded by Ohio State.
The woman was identified as a Butler County, Ohio resident. Guyana has been placed on the United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) Zika Virus warning list.
The CDC cautioned pregnant women not to travel to Guyana, among other Zika-infected countries, since the virus is suspected to lead to severe birth defects, including microcephaly.
Babies suffering from microcephaly have smaller than normal heads which prevents their brains from developing properly. There is also a possibility that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted after one such case was recorded in Texas, USA.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedesa egypti mosquito, which is also known to carry the dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya viruses.
Health experts are unsure why the virus – detected in Africa in 1947 but unknown in the Americas until last year – is spreading so rapidly in Brazil and neighbouring countries.

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