No Cases of Zika In The Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas, July 29, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Bahamas Ministry of Health has advised that country remains free of the Zika virus.

"Heightened surveillance continues with the Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health Services conducting the required public health and environmental follow up for each of the suspected cases," said Chief Medical Officer, in the Ministry of Health Dr. Glen Beneby.

"This is done in order to prevent and control possible spread of the Zika virus disease in The Bahamas. Additionally, source reduction and activities to decrease the mosquito population such as treatment of water sources and fogging are ongoing.

"Other activities include conducting Zika educational sessions for public and private health care providers.

"Family Island visits with associated town meetings, school presentations, radio and television appearances and airing of public service announcements in both English and Creole are also occurring." Beneby said while there were some 56 suspected cases of the virus in the country, all results received were negative.

Tourism industry stakeholders recognize the importance of being proactive; educating the public and potential visitors about the virus and the proposed measures to help moderate the spread of the virus. "The Ministry of Tourism is monitoring the situation closely and the destination is taking proactive measures to reduce the threat of a Zika outbreak," Tourism Director General Joy Jibrilu has said.

The Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board (BOIPB) has also been active in putting in proactive measures to ensure visitors to the various Islands of The Bahamas are safe.

"The Bahamas Out Islands Promotion Board has been in constant contact with its members regarding the Zika Virus. Once information is received from The Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association, this information is then shared with BOIPB member hotels in all of the islands," said Board Executive Director Kerry Fountain.

Proactive measures include:

- Providing staff and guests with information on ZIKV so that they are aware of the signs and symptoms, how ZIKV is transmitted and how it can be prevented.
Having insect repellant available to visitors.

- Avoiding storing water in outdoor containers to prevent them from becoming mosquito- breeding sites.

- Covering water tanks or reservoirs so that mosquitoes do not get in.

- Avoiding the build-up of garbage, which can act as a breeding site for mosquitoes. Putting garbage in closed plastic bags and keep it in closed containers.

- Uncovering and unblocking gutters and drains to release stagnant water.

All travelers are advised to:

- Stay informed about the ZIKV situation in countries they are travelling to.

- Use insect repellents on exposed skin. Insect repellents that contain DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535 are the most effective and safe when used according to the label. If also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

- Where possible, wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants, socks and shoes to minimize exposed skin.

- When indoors use air conditioning and keep the doors and windows closed, unless they are screened, to keep out mosquitoes. If this is not possible, sleep under mosquito nets to prevent bites.

What should you do if you feel sick and think you may have Zika?

- Consult a healthcare professional if you are feeling ill, especially if you have a fever. If you have returned home, make sure to tell them about your travel to the Caribbean.

- Use acetaminophen or paracetamol to treat fever and pain. Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.

- A person infected with ZIKV will have the virus in their blood for the first week of infection. The virus can be passed on to other mosquitoes if they bite you while you are carrying the virus. Therefore, be especially careful to prevent mosquito bites during the first week to avoid spreading the disease.

Travelers are encouraged to visit for any updates on Zika including messages from hoteliers or properties.

About The Islands Of The Bahamas
The Islands Of The Bahamas have a place in the sun for everyone from Nassau and Paradise Island to Grand Bahama to The Abaco Islands, The Exuma Islands, Harbour Island, Long Island and others. Each island has its own personality and attractions for a variety of vacation styles with some of the world's best scuba diving, fishing, sailing, boating, as well as, shopping and dining. The destination offers an easily accessible tropical getaway and provides convenience for travelers with preclearance through U.S. customs and immigration, and the Bahamian dollar at par with the U.S. dollar. Do everything or do nothing, just remember It's Better in The Bahamas. For more information on travel packages, activities and accommodations, call 1-800-Bahamas or visit Look for The Bahamas on the web on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

CONTACT: Travis Cartwright-Carroll (242) 397-2790 Anita Johnson-Patty (954) 888-1102

Source:Bahamas Ministry of Tourism