14 Feb 2016

Tests confirm Zika in American Samoa

1:01 pm on 14 February 2016

American Samoa's Lieutenant Governor, Lemanu Peleti Mauga, says the territory now has confirmed cases of the Zika virus.


Zika Photo: AFP

Twenty-five samples were sent off island this week for testing, Lemanu said four are positive and one of the cases is a pregnant woman.

Lemanu has issued a declaration that the Zika virus is present in the territory leading to heightened cooperation of local government entities as well as US government support from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Unified Command Center have also been activated and overseen by the Health Department and the LBJ Medical Centre.

Already in the territory since last week is CDC medical officer Dr Thai Chen, who confirmed that additional resources will be available to American Samoa, with staff arriving over the weekend.

He told state run television that CDC have already planned for a shipment of emergency laboratory supplies to arrive next week.

Pregnant American Samoan women given caution regarding sex

Dr Chen also said the federal government focus on the spread of Zika virus had shifted towards the sexual transmission of the virus.

While the Zika virus has been confirmed as transmitted by mosquito, Dr Chen said one of the things learned so far is that there were other ways that Zika virus could be transmitted.

pregnant stomach

Photo: 123RF

He said there was potential for sexual transmission that had been documented, especially from men to their sexual partners.

"Because we are most concerned about pregnant women and the potential effects of zika virus on their pregnancy, we're focussing our efforts on preventing sexual transmission to pregnant women."

Dr Chen said the CDC is advising pregnant women to use condoms for sexual activities or consider abstaining from sex.