Updated Zika virus figures from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico show that more than two dozen locally acquired cases have occurred since December 2015, and more can be expected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a Feb. 12 report published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC officials said, “Because the most common mosquito vector of Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, is present throughout Puerto Rico, Zika virus is expected to continue to spread throughout the island.”
During the period of Nov. 23, 2015, to Jan. 28, 2016, the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDH) reported a total of 30 laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus. The first locally acquired case of Zika virus in Puerto Rico was reported on Dec. 31, 2015, in a patient from the southeastern region (Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Feb;65[early release]:1-6. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6506e2er.).
The PRDH is using passive and enhanced surveillance to track the spread of the mosquito-borne Flavivirus, a disease that in humans has a generally benign course but that has a suspected association with microcephaly in infants born to Zika-infected mothers. Investigators are also tracking a suspected association with Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Patients, who mainly resided in metropolitan San Juan or areas of eastern Puerto Rico, had mostly mild illness. Patients most frequently experienced rash (77%), myalgia (77%), arthralgia (73%), and fever (73%). Three patients were hospitalized.
One case of Guillain-Barré syndrome in a Zika-infected individual was reported to the PRDH, but the department saw no cases of microcephaly that were suspected of being associated with Zika virus.
The CDC is coordinating with the PRDH in ongoing surveillance efforts and response to the Zika virus. All clinicians in Puerto Rico are urged to report cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, microcephaly, and suspected Zika infection to the PRDH. Residents of Puerto Rico should use strict mosquito avoidance and bite prevention measures, including the use of window screens, protective clothing, and an effective insect repellent.
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