Zika outbreak expands in West Africa, Americas

Aedes mosquito
Aedes mosquito

USDA / Flickr cc

In the latest developments of an ever-expanding outbreak of Zika virus infections, the West African nation of Cape Verde reported its first illnesses, while Panama and Honduras confirmed additional cases.

Cape Verde reports outbreak

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday reported that it had received notification of an outbreak in the nation of Cape Verde of the mosquito-borne disease.

The country notified the WHO of the outbreak on Oct 21, and 4,744 suspected cases have been reported through Dec 6 on the Cape Verde islands off the coast of West Africa. The earliest onset of symptoms occurred on Sept 27.

Fully 81% of suspected cases have occurred in the municipality of Praia on Santiago Island. The islands of Maio, Fogo, and Boa Vista have also reported cases. No neurologic complications have been observed, the WHO said.

Of 64 suspected case samples sent to the Institute Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal, 17 tested positive for Zika virus, which is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Cape Verde officials continue to work with the Institute Pasteur to investigate virus circulation and vector tracking on the islands.

Additional response efforts include strengthening surveillance and laboratory capabilities and mosquito control. Cape Verde officials are also monitoring about 30 pregnant women infected with Zika virus for microcephaly and neurologic complications. Microcephaly, in which infants are born with smaller-than normal heads and brains, has been reported elsewhere in the Americas.

Panama now has 4 cases

The WHO reported today on a laboratory-confirmed case of Zika infection, bringing the country's total of confirmed cases to four.

All four confirmed case-patients are women between the ages of 25 and 57.

Officials in Panama have also reported 95 suspected cases of Zika virus infection, four of which have tested positive for dengue virus, indicating community co-circulation of the illnesses that are both spread by Aedes mosquitoes. All 95 suspected cases have occurred in Guna Yala province, which is independently governed by the indigenous Guna people.

Most suspected cases have occurred in young people from 25 to 34 years, and 66% of patients suspected to be infected with Zika virus are female.

In response to the confirmed and suspected cases, Panamanian and Guna health officials are conducting vector-control and multilingual risk communication activities.

Infections in Honduras locally acquired

The WHO in a separate update yesterday said that Honduras's first two cases of Zika virus infection were locally acquired.

Both cases were laboratory-confirmed and occurred in men who live in the southern region of country. Because of the Zika outbreak currently affecting the Americas, the WHO continues to call for increased vector control and surveillance efforts in the region.

See also:

Dec 21 WHO report on Cape Verde

Dec 22 WHO update on Panama

Dec 4 CIDRAP News story on first Zika case in Panama

Dec 21 WHO update on Honduras

Dec 18 CIDRAP News scan on initial Honduran cases

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