Death wrongfully attributed to Zika, says Health Ministry

Friday, August 19, 2016 - 16:45

The Ministry of Health is seeking to clear the air on the death of Keisha Howell, saying it is not true that she died from symptoms of the Zika virus.

The Ministry has issued a statement saying Howell was advised against leaving the hospital before being attended to.

The statement adds that her symptoms were not that of the Zika virus.

The following is the Ministry of Health's statement:

"The Ministry of Health notes with concern the events surrounding the death of Ms. Keisha Howell and offers condolences to her family.

The Ministry of Health takes adverse events seriously and with respect to this matter believes that it is important that the public be made aware of the circumstances surrounding the event in order to avoid mistrust and panic, given the perceived link between this event and the Zika virus. 

The Ministry of Health received a report from the Medical Director of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), the details of which are listed below:  

Ms. Howell presented to the (EWMSC) with gastro abdominal distress (symptoms included abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea) at approximately 8:30 A.M.

She was seen by a nurse and her vitals taken at approximately 9:05 A.M.

At around 10:00 A.M. the patient indicated that she could not wait any longer and wanted to leave, at which point the nurse indicated to her that it was not advisable that she do so. 

A doctor who was brought in also advised  her that her leaving would be dangerous and that she ought to wait to be properly examined, before doing so.

Ms. Howell insisted and signed a Discharge against Medical Advice Form (DAMA) and was released.

It is important that persons presenting to health facilities give doctors the opportunity to treat and properly advise them.

The Ministry also wishes to reiterate that the symptoms presented are not indicative of the Zika virus and that death from the Zika virus is extremely rare.  

The Ministry of Health and all involved are saddened by Ms. Howell’s passing."