29 Mar 2016

Over 400 suspected Zika cases in American Samoa

7:46 am on 29 March 2016
Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can carry the zika virus, are seen in containers at a lab in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which can carry the zika virus Photo: AFP

There are now 403 suspected cases of Zika virus in American Samoa, according to the Department of Health's latest figures.

Since the outbreak first surfaced late last year, 91 blood samples have been sent off island to test for mosquito-borne viruses including Zika, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya -- which have similar symptoms.

Of the samples sent off island, 14 cases have been confirmed as Zika, including in six pregnant women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the health department are targeting pregnant women in their prevention and public awareness efforts.

The World Health Organisation declared Zika a global health emergency on February 1, saying new research has strengthened the link between the Zika virus and foetal abnormalities, while sexual transmission of the virus was more common than previously thought.

This year, Zika has been detected in five Pacific Island countries.

A meeting of the WHO's Zika Emergency Committee in Geneva earlier in March concluded that the Zika virus does affect the brain of a developing foetus and can also cause neurological disorders.

The WHO is advising pregnant women who have sexual partners who live in or travel to areas with Zika outbreaks to either practise safe sex or abstain from sex for the duration of their pregnancy.

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