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Region’s tourist officials caution about Chikungunya spread

Saturday, June 07, 2014    

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NEW YORK, USA (CMC) — One of the region's leading health officials has cautioned tourism stakeholders in the Caribbean not to turn a blind eye as cases of Chikungunya continue to spread.

Executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr James Hospedales, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the region needs to have all hands on deck to fight the disease.

"The players in the tourism industry need to be concerned and we have been working with Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) on some of the communications messages because you have to be truthful and honest in informing the population, but on the other hand you can't cause alarm and panic," he said.

"One of the things is that it's not only the population that might fall ill but actually your workers in the workforce and that's what's happening now, for instance, we've been getting reports in some countries. You're on a day-by-day basis (asking) who is sick today? So how can you work? That includes your nurses, doctors, tourism workers, everyone," he added.

The Chikungunya virus — a painful, mosquito-borne infection — has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean since late last year. Dozens of cases have been reported across the region and health officials are predicting more spread.

Hospedales said no part of the region has been spared.

"Chikungunya is a new virus to the region. It came in December last year and as of last week we have reports from 18 jurisdictions including all the language areas - English-speaking, French, Dutch and Spanish islands," he said.

"So that is a concern. It has not been here before so people are susceptible, there is no resistance and we have a lot of the mosquitoes that transmit it, the Aedes aegypti mosquito so we expect spread.

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