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News > Latin America

Environment in Focus as Zika Spreads Across the Caribbean

  • Fumigating exercise in Saint Lucia.

    Fumigating exercise in Saint Lucia. | Photo: teleSUR

Published 14 February 2016

The mosquito-borne virus has been confirmed in 22 territories in the region. Countries across the Caribbean have launched massive national clean up campaigns.


Caribbean countries with no confirmed cases of the Zika virus are promoting community control to stave off the virus. The countries are mobilizing large volunteer forces to get rid of garbage and all potential mosquito breeding grounds. Residents of all ages are taking part with their mascots to encourage children to get on board with the program.

“On the news, I heard that mosquitoes come in bottles, bottles caps and things that hold water and they breed and can give many diseases like dengue fever, Chikungunya and Zika,” says 10-year-old student Nefertiti Williams.

WATCH: The Daily Brief: 'Latin America Must Fight Zika'

Officials in the region say international scrutiny of affected countries and the supposed link between Zika and birth defects could hurt travel to the region.

The World Health Organization has declared Zika a global health threat and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States is coordinating regional efforts in its  war on the mosquito-borne disease.

RELATED: 7 Facts You May Want to Know About the Zika Virus

Saint Lucian Health Miniters Alvina Reyinolds said every country has to take responsibility and do its part to tackle the virus.

“This is a national issue. It's something for everybody. Yes it will affect unborn children in the womb 0-3 months in a more significant and serious way and we would know of other issues of mild paralysis etcetera, but it's just that we do not need those diseases in our spaces. And better still, we can prevent that by doing the most simple things that we were taught as children anyway. That is to keep your environment clean,” said Reynolds.

Dominica has adopted a "community approach" to the virus, urging environmental protection across the country.

Antigua and Barbuda has opted for a "high tech" offense, purchasing GPS units, which are uplinked to a satellite. They pinpoint mosquito-infested sites.

Prime Minister of Grenada and Chairman of the OECS Keith Mitchell said all members of the bloc have agreed to declare February the month of action against the virus. Public, private and tourism representatives are also joining in.

In a recorded address to citizens of the nine-member organization, Mitchell said proactive measures are being implemented and stronger coordination of effort will be seen in the coming weeks. He spoke of the need to mobilize communities in country-wide campaigns to eradicate mosquito-breeding sites.

Zika has been confirmed in Barbados, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Martin and the U.S Virgin Islands.

WATCH: Caribbean Tackles Impacts of Zika Virus

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