Clarification of Samoa’s Zika situation

By Diedre Fanene ,

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The Senior Epidemiologist of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr. Salanieta Saketa has sent an email clarification to the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri.

At issue, are reports by the ABC news that there was a case of the Zika virus (ZIKV) detected in Samoa as recently as this year in mid-January. According to Dr. Salaineta, S.P.C. has never reported that was a case of ZIKV detected in Samoa in mid-January.

“We don’t know exactly where this information came from but we believe that this may be a misinterpretation of the weekly map of epidemic and emerging disease alerts that we produce each week,” said Dr. Salanieta in her email.

“As you know we maintain a map of epidemic and emerging disease alerts in the Pacific." “We provide this service to the region’s public health professionals within the framework of the Pacific Public Health Surveillance Network (PPHSN) for regional health security purposes."

“ZIKV is one of the diseases under surveillance, alongside dengue, chikungunya and others.”

Dr. Salaineta said that they (SPC) only reported on ZIKV in Samoa in two confirmed cases last year.

“We included an alert for Zika in Samoa when your office sent a report on PacNet on 17th November regarding two confirmed cases in October,” she said.

“Following this information, we have emailed your office and on several occasions to get an update on the ZIKA situation but without any success."

“We also send the map through PacNet each week and we kindly ask the members, (meaning colleagues from the Pacific countries) to contact us for corrections, additions or comments as we’d never received any messages from your team."

“As a general rule of thumb, the alerts are removed once we receive information from countries that there have been no confirmed cases for at least two consecutive incubation periods or when the cases no longer exceed the threshold." 

“Unfortunately we did not have any hard evidence about this until we received your report 'Situational Report Zika Virus' on January 25, 2016."

“We anticipate your understanding and we would be happy to discuss how we should proceed in future to avoid any similar situation." 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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