SAN JUAN – Caribbean authorities have begun preparations to contain the spread of the Zika virus in the region through an increase in public education campaigns and adoption of detection and treatment protocols.
“In most countries in the region there is a high probability, as Zika can and will spread,” said Joy St. John, director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control for the Caribbean Public Health Agency, or CARPHA.
Four CARPHA member-states have confirmed Zika cases: Guyana, Barbados, Suriname and Haiti, she said during a live-streamed press conference.
In response to fears the virus will spread to other islands, St. John said Trinidad-based CARPHA will strengthen testing efforts and urged member-states to send blood samples as early as possible for confirmation.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries dengue fever and Chikungunya.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association said Monday in a joint statement that they have maintained close contact with CARPHA “to monitor and research the Zika cases that have now surfaced in some Caribbean destinations, and to communicate prevention and control measures to residents and visitors.”
“With more than 700 islands in 30 territories in the Caribbean, conditions will vary from one nation to another,” the CTO said.
CARPHA member-states are Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bermuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Curaçao, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, Saba, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands.