Health officials in American Samoa have been reviewing the medical records of patients who had symptoms that were similar to Zika virus infection. The study has identified 205 suspected cases of ZIKV and these are under investigation.
Four suspected cases have been laboratory confirmed; one of whom is pregnant. American Samoa has a population of 54 000 and a decision was made to declare an epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States has dispatched medical personnel to assist with the outbreak.
Advice for Travellers
Avoidance of mosquito bites, particularly during daylight hours, is recommended for all travellers. Due to the possible link between Zika virus infection and birth defects, pregnant women, or those planning pregnancy are strongly urged to seek pre-travel advice from their health care provider. They should be helped to understand the risks and to make an informed decision on whether to change their travel plans. If the decision is made to travel, strict measures to avoid mosquito bites both during daytime and nightime hours should be followed.
Women who have visited a Zika affected area whilst pregnant should arrange to have their next antenatal check promptly on return home, even if feeling well. This is not intended to cause undue anxiety, but merely as a precaution. In addition, medical attention must be sought quickly for any feverish illness experienced whilst travelling or on return.
Bite avoidance measures include: covering up with clothing, the use of insect repellent and bed nets impregnated with insecticide. Reduction of mosquito breeding sites around hotel rooms/homes is advised for longer term stays.