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Turks & Caicos Declared Zika Free

TravelPulse logo TravelPulse 4/5/2019 Janeen Christoff
Marina in Turks and Caicos aerial view (photo via Raynor Garey / iStock / Getty Images Plus) © Raynor Garey / iStock / Getty Images Plus Marina in Turks and Caicos aerial view (photo via Raynor Garey / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated Turks and Caicos' Zika status and declared the islands Zika free. The country is one of several that had past Zika transmission but no outbreak, and the last confirmed case was in January 2017.

In October of last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) discontinued the Zika classification scheme characterizing islands in the Caribbean, including the Turks and Caicos, as having “new introduction or reintroduction with ongoing Zika transmission.”

The classification was discontinued after several Ministries of Health, including the Turks and Caicos, advocated for the change.

Despite the change, the Zika label remained due to the United States’ CDC travel advisory website, which continued to have an adverse effect on the hotel and tourism industry of the Caribbean, the most tourism-dependent region in the world and one of the most popular honeymoon destinations worldwide.

In a statement in October of 2018, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) noted 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.”

Dr. James Hospedales, executive director of CARPHA, said that the ongoing cancellations due to the classification of most Caribbean countries was hurting the industry unnecessarily and the organization welcomed the new classification from the CDC.

While the danger of Zika has been eliminated, the country remains vigilant about maintaining clean-up campaigns to maintain the cleanliness of the environment and reduce and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

Health promotions are also ongoing within the country to continue to educate the general public about measures they can take to reduce mosquito breeding and avoid mosquito bites.

The Bahamas were also declared Zika free last year after the CDC removed the country from its list of “Areas with Risk of Zika” in February.

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