BRIDGETOWN, Barbardos (Jan. 27, 2016) — The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) are urging all Caribbean countries and the national hotel and tourism associations and hotels in the region to diligently work to control the mosquito population in light of the recent reports of the Zika virus. In addition, CTO and CHTA are working diligently with public health authorities in the Caribbean to mitigate the effects of the Zika virus.
Zika, also known as ZIKV, is spread by the Aedes genus of mosquito, in particular the Aedes aegypti.
CTO and CHTA are in close contact with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (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.
"We are in communication with our respective stakeholders and are observing national, regional and international health protocols in dealing with mosquito-borne viral diseases which can be found in tropical countries as well as the warmer regions of the U.S.," said Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the CTO.
With more than 700 islands in 30 territories in the Caribbean, conditions will vary from one nation to another.
"CTO and CHTA will continue to monitor all developments related to mosquito-borne viral diseases and to support appropriate communication, education and prevention initiatives," Riley added.
"An aggressive vector control program by hotels and governments is essential as is public awareness and training directed towards employees, businesses and governments," said Frank Comito, Director General and CEO of CHTA.
CHTA and CTO are working collaboratively with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and this week will begin to roll out additional initiatives to support on-the-ground efforts.
Comito noted that CHTA is scheduling a Webinar for later this week titled "The Facts About Zika and How to Mitigate Its Impact."
Comito said: "Public-Private sector collaboration is essential in successfully addressing this. CHTA, CTO and CARPHA are working together, and we urge all National Hotel and Tourism Associations along with industry stakeholders to collaborate at the local level with governments and the community, particularly on vector control and public education."
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Level Two Alert (practice enhanced precautions) for travelers to the Caribbean and specifies those countries which have confirmed cases to date. The alert and other preventive and helpful information for hotels and travelers can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), is providing disease prevention and control measures for travelers coming to the Caribbean. This information is based on currently available scientific evidence and has been adapted and prepared for the current Caribbean situation.
Zika was first detected in the Americas in 2014 and since then has spread to several other countries and territories. The most common symptoms of Zika infection are mild fever and skin rash, usually accompanied by conjunctivitis, muscle or joint pain, and general feeling of illness that begins 2-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya and can last 2- 7 days.
Research thus far indicates that it cannot be transmitted person to person by close or casual contact with an infected person or through the air, food or water, according to CARPHA.
The Caribbean nations and their hotels are taking proactive measures similar to those used in the past to combat dengue and chikungunya. These include:
- Providing staff and guests with information on ZIKV so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms, how ZIKV is transmitted and how it can be prevented.
- Placing insect repellents in every room, or having them available for purchase.
- Avoiding storing water in outdoor containers to prevent them from becoming mosquito breeding sites.
- Covering water tanks or reservoirs so that mosquitoes do not get in.
- Avoiding the build-up of garbage, which can act as a breeding site for mosquitoes.
- Putting garbage in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.
- Uncovering and unblocking gutters and drains to release stagnant water.
- Installing mosquito screening on windows and doors to help reduce contact between mosquitoes and guests.
- Supplying guests with bed nets in areas where the sleeping quarters are exposed to the outdoors.
Prevention messages for travelers All travelers are advised to:
- Use insect repellents on exposed skin. Insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535 are the most effective and safe when used according to the label. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Where possible, wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes to minimize exposed skin.
- When indoors use air conditioning and keep the doors and windows closed, unless they are screened, to keep out mosquitoes. If this is not possible, sleep under mosquito nets to prevent bites.
- Consult a healthcare professional if you are feeling ill, especially if you have a fever. If you have returned home, make sure to tell them about your travel to the Caribbean.
- Use acetaminophen or paracetamol to treat fever and pain. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
For more information contact either of the following organizations:
Caribbean Tourism Organization Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: CTObarbados@caribtourism.com. The CTO's New York office is located at 80 Broad St., Suite 3302, New York, NY 10004, USA: Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail: CTONY@caribtourism.com.