There are four more confirmed case of Zika Virus infection in Dominica at this time, the Ministry of Health and Environment has announced.

"This brings to a total of five cases, since the Ministry reported the first confirmed on March 15, 2016, the ministry stated in a release on Friday 15 April 2016.

"A pregnant woman is among the four new the cases," the release said. "She is not hospitalized. However, she is been closely assessed and managed by a team of consultant/ medical specialist doctors. There is no evidence of any congenital malformation such as microcephaly of her unborn child at this time. She will be closely monitored and provided with the expert management, including Psychosocial Support which is available within the Ministry".

The release said "all of the other cases have not been hospitalized and have recovered well" adding that "there is no need for alarm at this time".

What is Zika?

The Ministry of Health provide this information on the Zika virus:

"Zika virus belongs to the same family of viruses as dengue and chikungunya and is predominantly transmitted by the same mosquito, the Aedes aegypti but may also be transmitted via blood transfusion, from mother to unborn baby and also through sexual intercourse.

"It takes 3 to 12 days from exposure to onset of signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

"As many as 3 out of 4 infected persons may not have any signs and symptoms. Those who feel ill present with fever, rash, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and sometimes red eyes. This is very similar to dengue or chikungunya.

Complications of Zika Virus Infection

"While the majority of cases of Zika virus infections will resolve without difficulty in 2 to 7 days, some patients might go on to develop a problem with the nervous system called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. These patients present with worsening weakness in the body and require hospitalization. If the muscles of respiration are affected they would need management in the Intensive Care Unit.

"The other major complication being reported by Brazil and French Polynesia is babies being born with poor brain development identified by their smaller than normal heads or microcephaly.

"Microcephaly is a rare condition where a baby's head circumference is less than expected based on the average for their age and sex. "At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine available. Thus the best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites and persons who have fever, rash and conjunctivitis are advised to report to the nearest health centre or their personal health care provider.

Control of Zika Virus Infection

"An intense and sustained campaign aimed at reducing the breeding Aedes aegypti mosquito is required to minimize the spread Zika virus infection in Dominica. The Ministry of Health has intensified its response to Zika in the following areas:

Integrated Vector Control Management— Community surveillance, source reduction, chemical management,

Strengthening of Port Health Programme, Epidemiological Surveillance and Health Care Services

Public Education/ Awareness

"However, The Ministry of Health continues to urge the public to inspect their homes and yards weekly, and eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites indoors and outdoors by keeping water drums and barrels tightly covered, and throwing out stagnant water from flower vases, old tyres, and other containers that might act as breeding sites.

Empowering the Public to Protect Themselves

"The best method of protection from this disease still remains avoiding mosquito bites. Therefore, persons must take all necessary actions to minimize the risk of being bitten by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. This is particularly important for women who may in the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy. This includes: wearing of long sleeve shirts and long pants; the use of mosquito nets; the use of mosquito repellants; 'mosquito proofing' homes and other buildings by installation of mosquito screens."