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Man with Zika-like symptoms sent home from hospital

Published: 
Sunday, February 21, 2016

A man exhibiting symptoms of the Zika virus was sent home from hospital even after being told by doctors that he may “unofficially” have the virus. 

Speaking to the Sunday Guardian yesterday, the Belmont resident, in his 40’s, said after having a persistent fever for the last two weeks and other symptoms, including a measles-like rash, red eyes and pain behind the eyeballs, he went to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital on Thursday evening.

The man said: “No blood samples were taken from me for testing. The doctors told me that they didn’t have the capabilities to test for the Zika virus, they can only test for dengue fever. They also cannot test for the chikungunya virus and the doctors said based on my symptoms, I obviously had the Zika virus.

“What they told me was that they were not too familiar with the virus as yet. The doctors said they knew that there is no treatment for the virus and they can only treat the symptoms.”

He said he was given Paracetamol, a pain reliever and fever reducer, and his blood pressure was also elevated. He said he was discharged from the hospital early Friday and was given Piriton for his rash, Norgesic for muscle pain and additional Paracetamol for his fever. 

He said the doctors told him his recovery time could be a week based on his health condition, since he had no health complications such as diabetes, was not elderly and his immune system was strong. 

The man said doctors might possibly be sending patients home even though they might have the Zika virus because they didn’t want the disease to spread in the hospital. He said he believed the doctors felt he had the Zika virus because he also contracted the chikungunya virus last year.

The man said this time around he had a high, persistent fever for which the Paracetamol only provided temporary relief. He said when he had the chikungunya virus, he didn’t have red eyes or pain behind the eyeballs, and now he has to take eye lotion every six hours. 

The man said a rash broke out with chikungunya but it was not severe and lasted three days; now he was taking fluids and the rash was clearing up. The man said he was also experiencing pain in his joints, muscles and knuckles, just like the chikungunya virus, with a lingering fever, dizziness and headaches. 

This incident follows confirmation this week of the first recorded case of the Zika virus in the country—a 61-year-old woman from Victoria Gardens, Diego Martin, who tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Clive Tilluckdharry announced on Friday that there were also two new suspected cases, a 60-year-old teacher and her son from the Freeport area, who both exhibited symptoms of the virus, including fever, headaches and a measles-like rash. 

Tilluckdharry said their blood samples had been taken for testing and the Ministry of Health was awaiting the results. 

Contacted by the Sunday Guardian yesterday, Dr Tilluckdharry said if the account was true, the patient should not have been sent home without samples taken for testing.

“The policy is blood samples have to be sent to Carpha (Caribbean Public Health Agency) through public health labs. You can’t say orally he has Zika without confirmation,” he said. 

He said at a media conference at the Health Ministry’s office on Friday that the Zika virus presented symptoms similar to dengue and chikungunya.

Tilluckdharry reiterated: “That’s why we need to do blood tests. No one should be going around saying that they have Zika without confirmation by Carpha.” 

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