PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — There are over 200 confirmed cases of the zika virus in Trinidad and Tobago, of which 60 have been diagnosed in women who are pregnant.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said 59 cases had been recorded in Trinidad, and one in Tobago, the Trinidad Guardian reported.
Asked to explain the disparity in the latest figures, as last Friday he said he was aware there were only two zika cases in pregnant women locally, Deyalsingh said he only received the official statistics early on Sunday.
Zika symptoms include a rash, fever, generalized pains and conjunctivitis.
Deyalsingh said, “So far, there is no risk of microcephaly in any of the cases we have seen.”
This was later confirmed by Dr Karen Sohan, medical chief of staff, Mt Hope Women’s Hospital.
Microcephaly is a medical condition where babies’ heads are abnormally small.
Revealing that only one baby had so far been delivered of a mother who had been diagnosed with zika, Sohan said, “That baby is normal so far.”
She went on to confirm, “To date, no babies have been born with microcephaly secondary to zika.”
Sohan added, “The most vulnerable time for the pregnant patient appears to be the period while the brain is developing. The functioning cells of the brain are the neurons and these appear to be most vulnerable less than ten weeks gestation. There still appears to be a risk to the foetal brain although reduced, from 10 to 16 weeks. The virus has been shown to affect the growth of the baby up to 28 weeks gestation.”
Stressing that new information was emerging daily about infection rates and vulnerable populations, Sohan said it was equally as important for all healthcare providers and patients to be updated.
It was only in April that scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States concluded after careful review of existing evidence that the zika virus was a cause of microcephaly and other severe foetal brain defects.