Zika warning still in effect for Caribbean

Despite a dip in the reported cases of the Zika virus in the Caribbean the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) is still warning travelers to several Caribbean nations about the virus especially in the warmer months.

Thirty-seven Caribbean countries, including the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, remain on the CDC’s travel advisory list as a “Level 2” alert, which advises travelers to “Practice Enhanced Precautions.”

The advisory could put a dent in Caribbean tourism numbers from the US this summer.

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The countries still on the CBC travel advisory list are: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Guadeloupe, Haiti, French Guiana, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a US territory, Saba, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Saba, Saint Bathelemy, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and the US Virgin Islands.

The CDC says mosquitoes in the 31 countries are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people. They are urging pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant to avoid travel to the countries of the list and warning travelers who do travel to the region to use condoms or not have sex during their trip since sexual transmission of the Zika virus is possible.

 Person planning to travel to the Caribbean are warned to:

Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants; Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), IR3535, or 2-undecanone (methyl nonyl ketone) as directed. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label. Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than 2 months. (OLE should not be used on children younger than 3 years.); Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors. Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.

Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.

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