Panama reports first Zika virus cases

Panama reported its first locally acquired Zika virus cases, according to local media reports, as the World Health Organization (WHO) provided more details about recent detections in three other countries in the Americas: Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela.

Zika virus, spread by Aedes mosquitoes, is spreading rapidly in Central and South America. The outbreak has been especially intense in Brazil, where health officials say the Zika surge appears to be linked to a 20-fold increase in microcephaly.

Earlier this week the Pan American Health Organization issued an epidemiologic alert, warning countries to look for the virus and to be on alert for any unusual health patterns in newborns.

Panama's first cases

According to a pair of foreign language reports translated and posted yesterday by Avian Flu Diary, an infectious disease blog, Panama's health ministry announced three cases on the island of Ustupo during surveillance of people with fevers.

The island is located off Panama's northeastern mainland near the border with Colombia, which has already reported Zika virus cases.

Colombia announced its first locally acquired Zika transmission on Oct 16.

Panama is the tenth country in the Americas to report Zika virus infections.

Three nations report cases to WHO

Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela all reported their first locally acquired Zika virus cases to the WHO last week, according to separate statements posted yesterday. Investigations are continuing in all three countries, which are also implementing prevention and control measures.

In Mexico, health officials reported three cases on Nov 26, two of which were locally acquired. The autochthonous cases involved patients from Nuevo Leon state, in northeast Mexico, and Chiapas state, in the southeastern region of the country. The travel-linked case occurred in an individual who had traveled to Colombia.

The next day Paraguay reported six lab-confirmed locally acquired cases to the WHO. All were from Pedro Caballero, in a city in the northeast in an area that borders Brazil.

According to the report, the cases were identified in people with fever who tested negative for dengue and chikungunya. Ages range from 14 to 45 years old, and half are female.

Venezuela also reported its first cases to the WHO on Nov 27, noting that among seven suspected cases, four were positive, with results confirmed by Colombia's national lab. The patients were women ages 40 to 55 who live in areas that border Brazil.

See also:

Dec 3 Avian Flu Diary post

Dec 3 WHO statement on Zika virus in Mexico

Dec 3 WHO statement on Zika virus in Paraguay

Dec3 WHO statement on Zika virus in Venezuela

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