Chief Medical Officer Rhonda Sealey-Thomas has issued a warning to residents that if mosquito eradication exercises are not practiced, the Zika Virus will stay.
The Health Ministry has been investigating a suspected case of a locally-transmitted Zika infection approximately two weeks ago and according to Sealey-Thomas, laboratory results confirmed the infection.
“We found about the confirmed case about two weeks ago, so since then we have been investigating it,” she said.
She further confirmed that the individual is an adult female but did not specify in what area she was infected.
The Chief Medical Officer who was speaking to ZDK News this morning also urged residents to be vigilant to prevent the further spread of the virus.
“The thing is that even before we had the first confirmed case, we knew that the Aedes Egypti mosquito is present in Antigua and Barbuda so persons need to be vigilant; prevent themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes and assist the Ministry of Health in reducing the mosquito population.”
She added that if persons fail to take precautionary measures and to practice mosquito eradication exercise, the mosquito borne virus will continue to haunt the country.
“In Antigua there were never any cases before the outbreak started in the Caribbean and I want to say that unfortunately ZIKA is here and it’s going to be around for awhile unless we control the mosquito population,” the Chief Medical Officer said.
This follows news that a Level 2 travel alert was issued to U.S travelers who planned to travel to Antigua and Barbuda because of the recently transmitted case.
A Level 2 Alert means that travelers should practice enhanced precautions if visiting the twin island state.
The U.S Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advised pregnant women and those trying to conceive, to avoid traveling to Antigua unless it is necessary.
They said that if those women have no other choice they must first consult their doctors and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during their trip.
The Zika virus is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes Egypti mosquito. It can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus causing a number of birth defects upon infection.
There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.