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In mid-November, the World Health Organisation announced that it no longer considered the ZIKA virus an emergency and would shift its focus from a short term response to long-term efforts. What this meant was that WHO recognised that the virus was here to stay. It continues to affect babies who are born with a condition known as microcephaly, which causes abnormally small heads and restricted brain development.


For Belize, health officials continue on the alert for Zika. While there were over 580 suspected cases in September, it ballooned to over 600 following Hurricane Earl in October. Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero spoke to us about how Belize will be adjusting its effort to mitigate the spread of the virus.


Screen_Shot_2016-12-01_at_7.58.54_PMDr. Marvin Manzanero - Director of Health Services


“For us now to know that it is an endemic means that we have it here and it is going to be cyclical, our efforts has to continue just like with dengue, with malaria and chikungunya your efforts are throughout the year, what this means for us because we are taking note of it is that we are aware that ZIKA is here we probably aren’t going to be having any further spike this year because  I don’t think we are going to be having any more rain from now until the end of the calendar year but we need to be alert for whenever it starts to come up next year that we are cognizant of the fact that ZIKA is amongst us but our efforts can’t be minimize I mean we have to continue to monitor the pregnant women and the elderly population the younger population and as with cycles if there is any new notion in terms where ZIKA is that is where we will go.”


In September when the Ministry announced the number of confirmed cases, with the Belize District having the majority and the Corozal District the least with zero cases, it triggered questions about what factors affected the prevalence of cases. Dr. Manzanero said that the northern districts may be benefitting from conditions.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero - Director of Health Services


“That is a very interesting question, it could be with rain patterns and that it never made itself here, it has to do with other dynamics population and the concentration we have the fact that they may have done only clinical testing, it can be many other reasons it doesn’t mean that ZIKA isn’t here it is just that we never had any confirm case from here.”

 

Zika continues to spread rapidly in other countries. Today the UK Government announced that it had confirmed its first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus.

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