Caribbean’s 'Mosquito Awareness Week' Seeks to Sting Zika Virus
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Depending on the source, this year’s Zika virus outbreak has had either a negligible or profound impact on Caribbean travel. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) views Zika as enough of a threat to this week launch Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week, a joint initiative among the agency’s member states.
The program is designed to raise awareness regarding initiatives to eliminate mosquito-breeding sites and prevent mosquito-borne diseases. Using the slogan “Fight the bite, destroy mosquito breeding sites,” CARPHA has launched the program in cooperation with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said officials in a statement.
The campaign focuses on “the most effective way” to combat the Zika virus, namely “by eliminating places where the mosquitoes can breed in and around homes, workplaces and the local community.”
Emphasizing an “intersectoral approach” based on collaboration between government agencies, organizations and businesses, CARPHA officials are encouraging measures that include covering tanks, removing stagnant water sources and protecting individuals and families from mosquito bites.
“This is a week where we will focus on mobilizing the community to take action to eliminate the mosquito that causes dengue, chikungunya and now Zika,” said Carissa F. Etienne, PAHO’s director. “We want everyone to take part. No action is too small. Just emptying water out of a garden pot can rob the mosquito of a breeding site.”
READ MORE: What Travelers Need to Know About Zika Virus
The Caribbean’s first Zika virus infections were recorded in November 2015. Since then, 14 CARPHA member states and eight other Caribbean destinations have reported Zika cases. “As the rainy season sets in that number is expected to climb,” said CARPHA officials. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued Zika virus advisories for 19 Caribbean destinations.
“Our region depends significantly on tourism for economic development and we are all aware that there have been and there might be more travel advisories for tourists, which can impact our economy,” said Dr. Douglas Slater, CARICOM’s assistant secretary general.
The week’s activities include a Mosquito Awareness Mini Fair at CARPHA headquarters in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The mini fair is open to school groups and the general public and features exhibits, live demonstrations, interactive games and a “mosquito hunt.” Additional events will be held across the Caribbean to engage communities and inspire local action on mosquito control, officials said.
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