Zika cases in Trinidad and Tobago now likely in thousands, says health minister

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said on Thursday that the number of zika cases recorded in Trinidad and Tobago were inaccurate and there were more than the 247 confirmed cases, with the likelihood that the figure was in the thousands.

Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Clive Tilluckdharry, confirmed the number of people with zika was in the thousands, the Trinidad Guardian reported.

“With the rash, fever, headaches is zika, the number of cases in the thousands, that is zika,” he said.

His advice for couples attempting to have children: “You can get pregnant you know, but take the necessary precautions and keep your environs free of the Aedes aegypti. Use bed nets, insect repellent, not all pregnant women with zika end up with microcephaly.”

During a tour of affected areas, Deyalsingh said the government could only do so much, pointing out several homes that were a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and the population had to get on board.

He described as “shocking” one case in which they found 30 beer bottles in a derelict vehicle. Several of the bottles had water in them with mosquito larvae.

“I am pleading with the public for them to take part in the solutions. It is a co-ordinated response. This is not only in Trinidad and Tobago, it is globally who are affected.

“We saw another house where there were 30 bottles and 30 potential breeding sites in one residence. The population is still not getting the message we want.

“Spraying is not the only answer. The more we spray the more resistance is the mosquito. We have to make sure there are no breeding sites,” he said.

Tilluckdharry said aerial spraying was not effective when questioned about the virus.

Deyalsingh said government had increased the fine from $300 up to $3,500 for residents with unkept lots under the Yellow Fever Regulations but some property owners were calling him to either get those fees waived or the period for payment extended.

He said, however, it was time for property owners to take responsibility in the fight against zika.

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