Cuba has reported the first domestic case of Zika contracted inside the country, after a 21-year-old woman – who had not travelled abroad – became sick.
Four cases have previously been reported in the country – the first on 2 March – but all of them have been the result of the infected person contracting the disease while abroad. The most recent case, and the first of its kind on the island, follows a 22 February announcement by Cuban president Raul Castro asking residents to help prevent the spread of Zika by cleaning up any potential breeding grounds for the mosquitos that spread the disease.
Police and active duty officers have also been called in to deal with the situation and help prevent the mosquitoes from being able to spread Zika, reportedly fumigating areas of the country, while medics have also been put on high alert.
The World Health Organisation on 1 February declared a public health emergency of international concern relating to the disease – which can lead to birth defects including microcephaly, with thousands of cases of the defect reported in Brazil, where the Zika virus has spread rapidly.
There is no available vaccine for Zika, and treatments are directed at just reducing the symptoms, enabling it to spread – with the first case of transmission via sexual intercourse reported this year. Pregnant women have been advised against any travel to infection areas, while even those considering becoming pregnant have also been advised against travel.