14 Jul 2016

Increase in number of people with Zika virus

From , 5:02 am on 14 July 2016

The American Samoan department of health cannot afford to test all cases of people showing symptoms of the Zika virus.

Seven-hundred-and-thirty people have been seen at the hospital and community centres with symptoms.

Off island testing of blood samples has so far confirmed 43 Zika cases, 16 of whom are pregnant mothers.

Our correspondent in American Samoa, Monica Miller, told Daniela Maoate-Cox the formula for choosing who to test is unknown.

MONICA MILLER: You know the hospital, or the department of health has not given us our formula as to how they choose. They have said the cannot afford to send all 730 samples that they see of people with the symptoms of the virus. We do not know the number of blood samples that have been sent off island for testing. We have asked for that information, they have an epidemiologist, he is away at the moment. Unless he's here, they keep the information very general.

DANIELA MAOATE-COX: Have any of the babies shown any sign of the virus or had any kind of birth defects?

MM: Two weeks ago, we carried a story about the first two women who are pregnant mothers who had zika giving birth. The two babies, for the first several weeks or so, did not show any signs, but when we did that story the health department said they would need to monitor and do more follow up tests.

DM-C: it might be too soon to tell?

MM: Yeah, I mean, we hope it's going to stay that way definitely.

DM-C: is there concern that the virus will continue to spread?

MM: I can tell you that while the department of health is giving these updates every week, you do know that people, especially when they're working outdoors, that they're aware, that they try to protect themselves, you hear parents telling their children to come inside when it's dark for example or we have kids that run around without shirts for example because its warm but you hear parents say that [wear a shirt]. We also know that there's been very good efforts by the government through the beautification committee that the Island is much cleaner and the ZIKA virus was the impetus for that and I think that has worn off on families and they're doing a better job of keeping their surroundings clean.

DM-C: Do you mean in terms of clearing rubbish and anywhere that water might breed where mosquitos can breed?

MM: That's right, we've had messages on the radio, in the newspapers, and on television and a lot of stories have been devoted to beautification of American Samoa, not so much to make it look beautiful but because we need to get rid of containers and breeding places that these types of mosquitos that carry the virus are breeding in.