The Zika virus has arrived in Panama, with 50 confirmed cases already found in the province of Guna Yula, according to the Ministry of Health. One of the cases is affecting a pregnant woman, who is being kept under observation, although exams have shown her baby is out of danger.
Health authorities have emitted an alert about the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the Zika virus, as well as chikungunya and dengue. International research efforts have shown that this mosquito is almost certainly responsible for the spread of Zika.
(SOUNDBITE, Spanish) Néstor Sosa, director of the Gorgas Commemorative Institute for Health
“We have definitely confirmed 50 cases in Panama. There must be far more asymptomatic cases, perhaps 200-300 cases which do not show symptoms for the 50 confirmed cases.”
Nestor Sosa, director of the Gorgas Commemorative Institute for Health Studies, stated that conditions are present in Panama for the virus to spread across the country, since many people travel to the Guna Yala province. This province is also home to the Aedes aegypti mosquito and is a tourism destination, facilitating the propagation of Zika.
Sosa recommended that breeding sites be eliminated, that houses be thoroughly cleaned and that people use repellent and mosquito nets.