A multidisciplinary group of experts convened by the Pan American Health Organization / World Health Organization (PAHO / WHO) is in El Salvador this week to exchange experiences and support national efforts to respond to the Zika virus outbreak in the country.
The experience of Brazil in the management of microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome is being shared during this mission, along with discussions on surveillance protocols and the preparation of health services for surveillance and patient care, particularly for those with severe neurological manifestations related to Zika.
Since Brazil reported the first cases of local transmission of Zika in May 2015, the virus has spread to 31 countries and territories in the Americas, a situation that is compounded by possible association of Zika with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome. Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Surinam and Venezuela have all documented increases in cases of the syndrome.
El Salvador has reported more than 9,000 cases of Zika virus infection so far, and 138 cases of possibly associated Guillain-Barre syndrome. Of these cases, 70 percent have already been released and 228 pregnant women are being tracked. Among those women, 35 have given birth to children without microcephaly and the rest are being followed, country authorities said.
PAHO has developed a strategy to help countries mitigate the impact of Zika virus, through strengthening their capabilities to detect the introduction and spread of the virus, reducing mosquito populations, ensuring the necessary health services, and communicating effectively with the public about risks and prevention measures.