Brief on First Probable Case of Microcephaly Associated with Zika Virus Infection January 19, 2017

As of January 18, 2017, the Ministry of Health has received a report of the first probable Microcephaly case linked to Zika Virus Infection which was reported in the week of January 9, 2017. This is a probable case because the mother of the baby had a rash during pregnancy. Microcephaly is a condition in which babies are born with small heads.

On identification of microcephaly cases, the following actions are taken by the Ministry of Health:

  • History from mother to ascertain if she had a rash or any viral illness suggestive of Zika virus infection.
  • A detailed physical examination of the baby.
  • Diagnostic tests for the possible cause(s) of microcephaly as indicated by the history and physical examination.

The parents of the baby have been referred to the psychological services of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital. The Mother has been seen and continued follow up visits have been scheduled for as long as is necessary. The baby was seen in the hospital and follow up visits have continued at the community clinic.

Management of Babies born with Microcephaly Associated with Zika Virus Infection

The Ministry of Health has instituted the following actions to identify, investigate and follow-up cases of microcephaly:

  1. 1. Zika virus was classified as a class 1 notifiable disease in July 2015. This designation requires that cases of suspected Zika be notified immediately on suspicion. In December 2015, the Ministry of Health defined mothers and babies as suspected case of Zika virus infection if the babies have microcephaly. On identification the following actions are taken:
    • History from mother to ascertain if she had a rash or any viral illness suggestive of Zika virus infection.
    • A detailed physical examination of the baby.
    • Diagnostic tests for the possible cause(s) of microcephaly as indicated by the history and physical examination. These include: Toxoplasmosis, rubella, cytomegalovirus, herpes 2 simplex virus, HIV, syphilis and Zika virus. Genetic testing is done based on features of the physical examination.
  2. The Ministry of Health redesigned the Delivery Books to capture head circumference and to indicate the presence or absence of microcephaly at birth as well as other congenital anomalies. These books have been distributed (August 2016) throughout the public hospitals which account for 92-93% of the annual deliveries.
  3. Guidelines for the clinical management of mother and child including the psychosocial component have been developed and implemented. There has been training among private and public practitioners on these guidelines.
  4. The Fund for services to families with children born with congenital anomalies possibly related to Zika virus infection was implemented.
  5. Expert Group on Zika Virus Infection has been constituted and is giving expert advice for intervention in the following areas: Neurodevelopmental, Psychosocial, Education/Intervention, Diagnostics, Obstetrics and Research.