After almost two months after the first reported case of Zika in Grenada, the Ministry of Health has announced that the country has 9 confirmed cases to date and 30 suspected cases.
Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele told reporters at the weekly Post Cabinet Briefing at the Ministerial Complex last week Tuesday that the suspected cases are persons whose blood was not tested, as government lack the resources to test every person suspected of having the virus.
According to Minister Steele, the symptoms being displayed by patients will now be used to determine if an individual has Zika.
“We will get to a stage and a I believe we are at that stage now, where we will not be testing the blood of every single patient. We will be assuming that if an individual displays the symptoms of Zika, that it is ZIka. It is the same that is done with most other diseases or viruses because of the cost of doing the blood test and the fact that at certain point we assume it to be endemic,” he remarked.
The Health Minister made a plea to privately operated clinics to report suspected cases of Zika to the Ministry of Health as most of the reported cases are currently from government clinics.
“What is happening with this is as I said … the significant number of these cases came through our various centres. What I would like to do is to make an appeal to the doctors within the private sector…not all of the doctors are reporting suspected cases or confirmed cases on their part of patients who visit them”, he said.
“…We need to have this information to keep the stats up to date to follow the international health reporting regulations…” he added.
The senior government minister indicated that the Ministry of Health and by extension the administration is dealing with the side effects of the virus such as Microcephaly and Guillian Barre Syndrome, of which there are two reported cases.
He said it is costing government thousands of dollars to treat the Guillian Barre Syndrome.
“One of them we have been able to confirm that the individual does have or did have Zika. What you need to be aware of is that the treatment for Guillian Barre Syndrome is called immunoglobulin and the price that I’ve been informed of is $23,000 for the treatment purpose…apart from the fact that we take the added precaution that that person is in the intensive care unit, so we have two persons right now in intensive care unit.
“…We searched throughout the Caribbean and Latin America in cooperation with Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO); there were 8 doses of immunoglobulin in Panama stack piled by PAHO. We were able to get one of those doses over the weekend for the first case…we have another case so we have to get a second dose.
Noting the severity of the virus and its effects, Minister Steele told reporters that government will be enforcing strictly the anti-litter bill to ensure that mosquito-breeding sites are not being created by the population.