Six confirmed Zika cases in Honiara as announced by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services. Residents urged to clean areas
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) has officially confirmed six cases of Zika virus in Honiara. These cases were identified through lab testing at the Molecular Laboratory at the National Referral Hospital (NRH). The positive results were received as of September 30, 2023. These six Zika cases were detected among 270 blood samples screened, utilizing the Trioplex PCR kits donated by the South Pacific Community (SPC). This initiative is part of a broader effort to bolster laboratory support in preparation for the upcoming Pacific Games in 2023.
Zika virus infections typically present with mild or no symptoms, but in cases where symptoms do manifest, they usually appear 3-14 days after infection. These symptoms include rash, fever, non-purulent conjunctivitis (red eyes without pus), muscle and joint pain, a general sense of unwellness, and headaches that can persist for 2-7 days. It’s worth noting that Zika infection symptoms closely resemble those of other mosquito-borne diseases like dengue, necessitating laboratory confirmation for a precise diagnosis.
In response to this concerning development, the MHMS is urging all residents and property owners in Honiara to take immediate action to eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites on their premises. These breeding sites often consist of water-holding objects such as discarded containers, bottles, tins, used tires, old vehicles, broken water-taps, old drums, fridges, eskies, and coconut shells. Additionally, residents are encouraged to regularly clean roof gutters and securely cover water-storage containers like water tanks, fibro-containers, and open metal drums. These measures are crucial in preventing the proliferation of Zika virus vectors and reducing the risk of transmission.
There is currently no specific cure for Zika virus infection. The Ministry of Health and Medical Services says the most effective means of preventing its transmission is by minimizing the population of its vectors within residential areas and properties. While Zika virus infections are generally mild and may not exhibit symptoms in most individuals, they can lead to severe medical conditions such as microcephaly (a birth complication resulting in babies born with small heads) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a rare disorder that affects the body’s immune system). Although no Zika-related deaths have been reported in the Solomon Islands, severe Zika-related Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases and complications in pregnant mothers can lead to fatalities. Though there are no recorded deaths due to Zika virus infection in Solomon Islands, deaths can still occur in severe Zika-related GBS cases and unborn babies due to complications caused by ZIKV in pregnant mothers. Thus, with no current treatment available for ZIKV infection, the most affordable and effective measure to prevent ZIKV transmission is for us to carry-out the preventable measures recommended to reduce the population of the ZIKV vector or mosquito near our residential areas and properties.
Solomon Islands previously experienced its first Zika virus outbreak in 2015, with five PCR-confirmed cases in Honiara and more than 300 suspected cases reported between February and May of that year. Due to limited laboratory testing capacity at the time, the full extent of the outbreak in other provinces remained uncertain.