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St Lucia continues eradication, still no Zika


St Lucia continues eradication, still no Zika

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CASTRIES – Saint Lucia has recorded no confirmed cases of the Zika virus to date, despite several cases reported in the region.

But Senior Medical Officer with the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, Dr Sharon Belmar-George, said Saint Lucia was prepared to respond should it occur.

“We have strengthened early detection and surveillance for both microcephaly and Guillian Barre Syndrome at our secondary care facilities, and we have trained our healthcare workers both at community health centres and at the different hospitals in early detection practices,” Dr George said.

“So far, all weekly samples that have been sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing, have come up negative. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health continues its preparation and response to Zika in collaboration with the Solid Waste Management Authority, the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association and the constituency councils.”

Eradication campaigns have been planned for all communities, while Fort North, Dennery, Babonneau and Gros Islet have had widespread source reduction exercises. The ministry has also pushed up the date of the annual Vector Awareness Week observance.

Normally held between May and June, the ministry will host the 2016 Vector Awareness Week from March 14 to 19. Activities will include a school poster competition, a motorcade and marches round the island.

Dr George said despite the reduction in rainfall, the aim is to ensure there is a reduction in the breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti. Consequently, the Environmental Health Department continues house to house entomological surveillance and targeted fogging exercises for areas with high mosquito indices. 

“We also continue to work quite closely with our regional partners: PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation), CARPHA and the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) for continuous updates and regional planning,” she said.

Dr George said the Ministry of Health was pleased with the public’s response and called on residents to continue monitoring their premises and reduce the breeding sites of the Aedes aegpti mosquito. 

All measures employed to reduce the impact of Zika also work to reduce the impact of Dengue and Chikungunya on the local population. (PR)