GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, received information that the United States Consulate General in Curacao informed U.S. citizens that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel notice for Sint Maarten regarding the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
The aforementioned is a formality that CDC has to follow in connection with their protocols that they have in place in connection with communicable diseases and travel abroad.
Countries around the world including Sint Maarten, have the responsibility according to International Health Regulations (IHR) to report communicable diseases via the National IHR Focal Point which is the Netherlands who then passes this information on to the World Health Organization (WHO). The countries of Aruba and Curacao also have to follow the same protocol.
According to the WHO, despite some reports of a potential association between Zika virus, microcephaly and other neurological disorders, at this stage, it is not possible to establish a causal relationship between these events.
Until more is understood, Members States are advised to standardize and enhance surveillance for microcephaly and other neurological disorders, particularly in areas of known Zika virus transmission and areas at risk of such transmission.
CPS is appealing to the community to step up measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites in and around their homes and businesses in order to stop mosquitos from feeding.
Dengue fever, Zika and Chikungunya are transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg, to larvae to pupae and to adult mosquito.
Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vase or in pet dishes for more than two days. Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.
Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realized to prevent drainage problems which can be a source for standing water. Empty all construction containers such as blue tanks, buckets, paint cans etc.
Mosquitoes can be kept out of the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened (16-18 mesh). Those insects that do get into structures can be eliminated with a fly swatter or an aerosol space spray containing synergized pyrethrum.
Screen off cistern outlets, cover and screen septic tanks properly.
Everyone, including pregnant women and women of childbearing age, should avoid exposure to mosquito bites, for example, by wearing long sleeves and long pants, using insecticide-treated mosquito nets and using insect repellents.
The aforementioned measures should also be taken in and around the workplace, social gatherings and living quarters to eliminate mosquito breeding sources and stop mosquitos from feeding.
An increase in the mosquito population puts residents and visitors at risk. For information about Dengue fever, Zika and Chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS 542-2078, 542-3003 or the emergency number 550-2255 to report mosquito breeding sites.