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  • Jamaica confirms first case of Zika virus

    KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Ministry of Health has confirmed one case of the Zika virus in Jamaica.

    The patient, who has now recovered, is a four-year-old child from Portmore, St Catherine.

    In a news release Saturday, the ministry said the child began showing symptoms on January 17 after earlier returning to Jamaica from travel to Texas in the United States.

    The child was investigated at the Bustamante Hospital for Children and samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing on January 26, 2016. The ministry said it received the positive Zika virus test result from CARPHA late yesterday.



    The ministry said the case is being investigated to determine the source of infection and the child’s parents and family have been contacted and briefed by a team from the Ministry of Health. No other family member is ill at this time, the news release said.


    As part of its investigations, the Ministry of Health has undertaken the necessary community interventions in and around the area where the child lives to determine whether there are other cases and has heightened vector control activities.

    Minister of Health Horace Dalley will provide a full update to the nation at a press briefing to be held on Monday, February 1, 2016.

    In the meantime, the ministry is advising people, particularly pregnant women, to take extra precaution to prevent being bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes which transmit the Zika virus.

    There is adequate medication available in the public health system at this time to treat the symptoms of Zika virus infection in the event of additional cases being identified, the ministry said.

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    Popular comedian and actor Keith 'Shebada' Ramsey has sought to set the records straight regarding a story that has been circulating on the Internet since Monday, claiming that he was beaten.

    The story alleges that the actor was dragged out of a nightclub in New York and beaten by armed thugs. The story also claims that the beating took place after the men found out that the actor was a man and had been mistaken for a woman earlier. The article added that Shebada is now in bad physical condition after the altercation.

    However, he refuted the allegations.

    "When mi see it first, me just smile cause mi a say a weh dem people yah a get dem news," he said. "I have not travelled since October, I have been in the island since."

    Though the story reports that Shebada was left in a bad physical condition after the alleged beating, the comedian maintains he is perfectly fine.

    "Nothing like dat neva gwaan, so how mi nuh fi alright," he said. "I don't know where that story came from, but I'm good."

    Shebada added that since the story began to circulate, comments have been made on the situation by persons pretending to be him on Facebook.

    The actor also stressed that he refuses to focus on negative things.

    "No news is bad news, I guess because mi a hot topic once more," he said, laughing. "I'm not focused on things like that though because I'm all about the progress."

    Shebada's new play, 'Bangarang', is currently playing at the Green Gables Theatre in St Andrew.


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  • Zika virus 'spreading explosively, in the Caribbean' WHO leader says

    The Zika virus is "is now spreading explosively" in the Americas, the head of the World Health Organization said Thursday, with another official estimating between 3 million to 4 million infections in the region over a 12-month period.

    "The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty," Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO's director-general, told her organization's executive board members. "We need to get some answers quickly."

    The lack of any immunity to Zika and the fact that mosquitoes spreading the virus can be found most "everywhere in the Americas" -- from Argentina to the Southern United States -- explains the speed of the virus' spread, said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, an official with the WHO and Pan American Health Organization.

    Aldighieri gave the estimate for Zika infections (including people who do not report clinical symptoms) based on data regarding the spread of a different mosquito-borne virus -- dengue. He acknowledged the virus is circulating with "very high intensity."

    Some 80% of those infected with the Zika virus never know they have it. But there are major worries about the dangers pregnant women and their babies face.

    Chan said that, where the virus has arrived, there's been a corresponding "steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads and in cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome." Having small heads can cause severe developmental issues and sometimes death. Guillain-Barre is a rare autoimmune disorder that can lead to life-threatening paralysis.

    Dr. Bruce Aylward, another WHO leader, cautioned that no definitive link has been established but said there's legitimate reason to be concerned.

    Zika potentially poses a dire health threat to areas with millions of people, but it's far from clear what to do about it.

    Pregnant women, their babies at high risk


    After first being detected in 1947 in a monkey in Uganda, Zika was most often found along the equator from Africa into Asia. Nine years ago, new cases popped up in islands in the Pacific Ocean.

    Last year, the virus made its way to the Americas -- with devastating results.

    The number of cases there has grown exponentially, prompting public health measures aimed at curbing it and protecting those most endangered, particularly women who could become pregnant or who already are.

    Brazil alone has reported more than 4,000 cases of microcephaly -- a neurological disorder resulting in the births of babies with small heads -- in infants born to women infected with Zika while pregnant.

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  • Jamaican hotel worker freezes to death in the US

    A Jamaican man who worked at a hotel in Jackson, Wyoming in the United States, died last Saturday due to hypothermia, which occurs when the body gets cold and loses heat faster than it can make it.

    The coroner’s office in Jackson said 30-year-old Aldane Mullings died from hypothermia due to exposure. The phenomenon can occur due to extreme exposure to cold air. Temperatures in Jackson, Wyoming hit minus-16 degrees Celsius last Friday night.


    Mullings’ body was found lying in a road on Saturday morning.

    The Washington Times reported that the deceased man had been in Jackson on a J-1 visa, working at a hotel.

    Authorities said he was last seen alive, drinking at a restaurant early on Saturday morning.

    They said his death is no longer being treated as a suspicious development, this after an autopsy determined that none of his injuries was consistent with severe trauma.

    Jamaican hotel worker freezes to death in the US

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