The Turks and Caicos Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sport and Human Services has announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has updated its Zika travel information website to reflect that the destination is among the countries with current or past Zika transmission but no outbreak. The website that provides information to travelers about the risk of acquiring Zika when traveling to different countries reports that the last confirmed case of Zika in the TCI was in January 2017.
Back in October 2018, The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) had issued a statement indicating that the Zika virus transmission in the Caribbean had been interrupted for over 12 months, or was at undetectable levels, thereby posing very little risk to residents and visitors to the region. This was matched by data shared with CARPHA by Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States of America, which showed that no Zika had been detected for over 12 months in travelers returning from the Caribbean to their countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) also discontinued the Zika classification scheme which saw several Caribbean countries, including the TCI, characterized as having “new introduction or reintroduction with ongoing Zika transmission”. However, the Zika label remained on much of the region based on the United States’ CDC travel advisory website. The CDC travel advisory continued to have an impact on the hotel and tourism industry in the Caribbean, officials said.
The new categorization on the CDC travel advisory website is welcomed news for the TCI and the region, says Dr. James Hospedales, executive director of CARPHA. In addition, health promotion activities have been ongoing to educate the general public about measures they can take to reduce mosquito breeding and avoid mosquito bites through various forms of media, as well as, clean up campaigns throughout the country in order to maintain the cleanliness of the environment, thereby reducing and eliminating mosquito breeding sites. The Ministry of Health has also continued to take a multifaceted approach in addressing mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika, in order to protect the health of residents and visitors to the TCI.
For additional information, please contact the Ministry of Health on 338-3055.