TCI: Government pumping 500K into local Zika fight -11 Zika cases now reported

THE GOVERNMENT is pumping some five hundred thousand dollars to actively fight the dreaded Zika virus in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

This comes as the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Laboratories recently confirmed an additional three cases of the infection in the TCI.

These three new cases now bring the total to eleven cases.

According to a Government release issued Monday September 22, 2016 the monies were recently approved from the contingency fund and will go directly towards the management of Zika in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

According to the release, approximately eighty thousand dollars will be used for promotion and awareness initiative by Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit, while another twenty-five thousand dollars will be used for street cleaning by Public Works Department.

The balance is expected to be expended by the Environmental Health Department for staff support and other resource needs.

This is being done in an effort to minimize the spread of Zika,in the islands.

With the recent confirmation of eight Zika cases in the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Government has since intensified its house-to-house inspections and increasing fogging exercises throughout the country.

A total of 402 derelict vehicles have been removed and properly disposed in a manner to reduce these vehicles from servicing as breeding sites.

The Minister of Health, Agriculture and Human Services and Premier Rufus Ewing are reminding residence and tourist alike to use approved repellents when outdoors, in order to minimize the risk and further spread of the Zika virus.

Residents are being urged to take immediate steps to stop Zika by eliminating all breeding and potential breeding sites on or near their premises.

In addition to Zika, the TCI is still on alert for other mosquito-borne viruses such as Dengue and Chikungunya, both of which have been public health concerns here in the islands in recent years.

Officials from the Department of Environment recently told the Weekly news during a telephone interview that they are working with an outlined programme of action to delineate the various resources and needs that will be required to step up efforts.

It was noted that presently spraying and fogging is ongoing in a number of islands, including Providenciales.

However, emphasis was placed on the need for more personal protection.

Recently the Director of Environmental Health, Kendrick Neely, outlined some of the measures that will be implemented and those that are already ongoing.

He said: “We have increased house-to-house inspections, because the Aedes aegypti mosquito, we call it the house mosquito. They live around our homes and hotels, so we’ll be stepping that up.”

He is urging the community to support the department in this effort by ensuring their surroundings are kept clean.

“We’re also going to be having meetings with the pastors’ fraternity throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“The reason why we are taking this approach with addressing pastors and educating the pastors is because we want them to assist in passing the message on to their congregation and educating them.

“We will also be meeting with civic groups, and we’re in the schools, and we’re going to youth fellowships to talk to persons there as well.”

According to Premier Rufus Ewing, the Government dipped into its contingency fund to provide the necessary financial resources to procure the essential equipment, such as additional foggers.

“Getting more manpower to provide fogging in Providenciales, North and Middle Caicos, the islands that have the highest index of mosquitoes.”

Mosquito nets will also be procured and distributed throughout the islands.

The Zika virus has since been reported in 20 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean from February 2014 to January 26, 2016.

Zika is a viral illness, which is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito is found in the TCI.

Most persons with Zika are not aware that they have the illness and may not have any symptoms.

Symptoms of Zika are similar to Dengue and Chikungunya and appear between four to seven days after someone has been bitten by an infected mosquito.

These symptoms include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis (also known as pink eye), muscle or joint pain, and general malaise. There is no specific medication to treat Zika and there are currently no vaccines to prevent the illness.

Zika virus can cause Microcephaly in the unborn foetus of a pregnant woman.

Pregnant women should take special precautions to ensure that they are not bitten by mosquitoes. Extra special precautions should be taken when travelling to affected areas and countries. Persons are advised to adopt safer sexual practices e.g the use of condoms during sexual activity; this includes pregnant women for the duration of their pregnancy. (TCI Weekly News)

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