Precautionary measures have been initiated by Dutch St. Maarten to mitigate the mosquito population on island as a result of ten cases of the virus Chikungunya being reported in the French territory of St. Martin, according to a statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Transportation.
The announcement said that the Health and Tourism Ministries are working closely with the French Side authorities of the island to eliminate further risk. Preventative measures have included emergency mosquito fogging both near the Dutch/French border and throughout the entire island. The Minister of Public Health, Hon. Cornelius de Weever, is also encouraging residents on island to take action by removing potential mosquito breeding spots around their premises on a daily basis.
Additional interventions include training of the Ministry of Public Health Vector Control Team, placing physicians on alert, increasing public health surveillance for Chikungunya, yard-to-yard inspections, daily public announcements being made and cautionary banners and posters being placed in public locations to notify residents and visitors at large on the preventative measures to be taken.
Government authorities said they are adhering to the guidelines and regulations of the WHO, PAHO, RIUM & CDC to prevent the spreading of the disease and protect the residents and visitors of the island.
The Minister of Tourism and Transportation (responsible for the airport and port), Ted Richardson, has also joined in the Chikungunya prevention campaign, by requesting the Tourism sector partners, especially both ports of entry, to be vigilant and alert in protecting their employees and guests/visitors to the island.
"We are asking all taxi/bus drivers, restaurants, properties, car rentals agencies, stores and attractions to have mosquito repellent readily available in their establishments for their guests, particularly during dusk & dawn," said Richardson.
"St. Maarten is still safe to visit and we do encourage travelers to come to the island. While on island, visitors can help protect themselves by using mosquito repellent on hands, face, feet (parts of the body that are exposed), and wear long sleeve shirts and pants/skirts, especially during the high risks times (dawn & dust).”
St. Maarten's Ministry of Public Health has been actively engaging with the public since 2012 to reduce the risk of these outbreaks with Cornelius de Weever's "Get Checked" campaign, which encourages residents and businesses to check in and around their establishments to reduce breeding sites.
Special precautionary measures are undertaken in collaboration with French St. Martin, as a result of being placed on a Level:1 Watch by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the lowest notice level by the agency, which advises travelers \to the destination to follow usual insect precautions.
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.