Zika report denied

An Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which can carry the Zika virus, among other mosquito born illnesses. The Ministry of Health says there no Zika virus in Tanzania, and a study claiming to have found Zika needs to be examined in greater detail.  Photo:Muhammad Karim

The Ministry of Health has denied reports that the Zika virus is present in Tanzania.

On Friday, December 16, the government owned Daily News reported that 15.6 percent of people in a sample size of 533 had the Zika virus, citing a study by the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR.)

The Daily News also reported that the NIMR tested 80 children with disabilities found over 40 percent had traces of the Zika virus.

The NIMR is a parastatal organization under the Ministry of Health.

But on Friday afternoon, the Ministry of Health released a statement denying the presence of Zika.

“The disease is still not in the country … the findings by NIMR study are only meant to check the capability of new diagnostic equipment test kits used to detect the disease,” says the statement issued by Ministry of Health spokesperson Catherine Sungura.

Sungura says the results of the study need to be examined in greater detail in corroboration with existing World Health Organization (WHO) test kits.

According to the WHO, the Zika virus is endemic to Tanzania; the virus was first discovered in humans in Tanzania and Uganda in 1952.

On Friday night, the director general of the NIMR, Mwele Malecela, was removed from her post by presidential order.

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About the Author

Daniel Hayduk

Daniel is Dar Post’s news director. When not in the newsroom, he spends his days helping NGOs across the continent find their creative side.