Background: Jamaica, along with the Americas, experienced major epidemics of arboviral diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito in recent years. These include dengue fever in 2012, chikungunya fever in 2014 and Zika virus infection (ZIKV) in 2016. We present the emergence of the ZIKV epidemic in Jamaica and outline the national response.
Methods: The Ministry of Health’s preparedness included: heightened surveillance, clinical management guidance, vector control and management, laboratory capacity strengthening, training and staffing, risk communication and public education, social mobilization, inter-sectoral collaboration, resource mobilization and international cooperation.
Results: The first case of ZIKV was confirmed on 29 January 2016 with date of onset of 17 January 2016. From 3 January to 30 July 2016 (Epidemiological Week (EW) 1-30), 4648 cases of ZIKV were recorded (4576 suspected, 72 laboratory-confirmed). Leading symptoms were similar among suspected and confirmed cases: rash (71% and 88%), fever (65% and 53%) and joint pains (47% and 38%). There were 17 suspected cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Three hundred and eighty-three were reported in pregnant women, with no reports of microcephaly to date. Zika and dengue viruses were circulating predominantly in 2016. At EW30, 1744 cases of dengue were recorded (1661 suspected and 83 confirmed). Dengue serotypes 3 and 4 circulating with 121 reports of dengue haemorrhagic fever.