Patient being treated for potentially paralyzing Zika-related illness

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, Jul 10 – The Ministry of Health in St Vincent and the Grenadines said Saturday that health care professionals at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital are treating a patient infected with a potentially paralyzing condition suspected to be related to the Zika virus.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Luis de Shong, in a statement, revealed that the patient, an adult, has been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that in Guillain-Barré syndrome, the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

The syndrome can affect the nerves that control muscle movement as well as those that transmit feelings of pain, temperature and touch. This can result in muscle weakness and loss of sensation in the legs and/or arms.

de Shong said the patient is “stable and is receiving the recommended treatment, immunoglobulin”.

The senior health official said the medication was sourced through the Pan American Health Organisation, as per the established Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment Zika Management protocols.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment collaborated closely in this regard with the local Pan American Health Organisation Country Programme Specialist, Ms. Anneke Wilson, the Chief Medical Officer of Grenada, Dr. George Mitchell, and the staff of SVGAIR and uses this opportunity to express enormous thanks and appreciation to these individuals and their particular organizations for their willingness to lend the necessary support,” de Shong said.

He said his ministry is providing psychosocial support to pregnant women who may have been exposed to the Zika virus and monitors them regularly.

“Additionally, the Ministry is providing medicated mosquito nets to all pregnant women who are registered at our antenatal clinics,” he said.

“The Ministry of Health, Wellness, and the Environment emphasizes the importance of everyone, not just pregnant women, using insect repellents and wearing long sleeve shirts and long skirts or pants to avoid being bitten by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the vector which carries Zika, Chikungunya, and Dengue Fever. Everyone is urged to get rid of all mosquito breeding sites in their homes, yards and workplaces, by securely covering or turning over any containers holding water, placing fine mesh over the vents of septic tanks and clearing gutters and spouting.”

de Shong said the Ministry of Health will continue to keep the public updated on the Zika virus and anticipates continued partnering with the public.

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