Zika virus in Marshall Islands
The Marshall Islands is an island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean, slightly west of the International Date Line. Geographically, the country is part of the larger island group of Micronesia. The country's population is 53,158 people according to the 2011 Census. The Marshall Islands experienced a widespread outbreak of Chikungunya last year and a dengue fever outbreak in late 2011.
Zika virus could pose a threat to teenagers in Marshall Islands as the country has highest rate of births by teenagers in Pacific region. Over 15% of all births on the Marshall Islands are to women with ages 19 and under.
In January 2016, Ministry of Health of Marshall Islands activated its emergency operations in response to the rapid spread of Zika virus in neighboring Pacific countries.
The first case of Zika virus in Marshall islands was confirmed in the capital city of Majuro on 19 February 2016. Marshall Islands became the fourth Pacific country after Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga to confirm cases of Zika virus. Marshall Islands sent blood samples of six suspected cases of Zika virus to Hawaii State Laboratory and one of them came back positive. The patient who contracted the virus has not traveled outside of the Marshall Islands.
In November 2015, a visitor to Majuro from Australia developed Zika-like symptoms and was tested positive on return to Australia.
- Dr. Kennar Briand - Secretary of Health