Caribbean Countries Confront Zika Outbreaks in 2023
As international travelers seek out warm Caribbean beaches in 2023, they may find an unwanted disease never was eradicated.
On certain Caribbean Islands, visitors are reminded about the ZIKA virus (ZIKV) risk in tropical climates.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) weekly report updated on January 28, 2023, Barbados had the highest cumulative incidence rate and reported a 0.005 % case fatality rate in 2022.
Other ZIKV outbreak countries connected to the Caribbean Sea were Puerto Rico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica.
During 2021, the most Zika cases were reported in Brazil, Guatemala, and Paraguay.
ZIKV is mainly transmitted by mosquitoes that bite but can be transmitted from one infected person to another through sexual contact.
Most people infected with ZIKV will not have any symptoms or just mild symptoms, says the PAHO.
However, the virus can be passed from an infected mother to her developing baby during pregnancy, which may result in severe congenital disabilities, including microcephaly.
Since no Zika vaccine candidates are approved for use as of January 28, 2023, a comprehensive risk assessment should be undertaken for pregnant women visiting areas with ZIKV transmission.
And a new, innovative device developed at the University of Florida (UF) for the U.S. military may protect from mosquitos for an extended period from the organic insecticide Transfluthrin considered safe for humans and animals.
UF test results showed the controlled release of the repellent Transfluthrin, effectively preventing multiple species of mosquitos from entering the testing site.
“Our device eliminates the need for applying topical repellents and for insecticides that are sprayed across an open area, which can contaminate surrounding plants or bodies of water and have a negative impact on beneficial pollinators like bees and butterflies,” stated Nagarajan Rajagopal, a Ph.D. candidate in the UF’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering.
“This is versatile, portable, easily deployed, and doesn’t require electricity or heat to activate the solution,” added Rajagopal in a media statement on January 27, 2023.