The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says the risk of contracting the Zika virus (ZIKV) in the region is low but there is still a need to be vigilant given the ongoing risk for dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.

CARPHA said it had conducted a 30 month review of the situation and found that the number of cases of the virus, which was first detected in the Caribbean in late 2015, increased in the first half of 2016 and reached its peak circulation in August 2016, and then declined rapidly by December 2016.

“Before, during and after the introduction of the virus, CARPHA has been conducting surveillance and laboratory testing activity for ZIKV and has worked assiduously with its 26 CARPHA member states and partners to strengthen the ability to detect and diagnose cases; to enhance the capacity to reduce transmission of this and other vector-borne diseases; and to improve coordination and use of information for prevention.”

CARPHA said that ongoing surveillance and laboratory testing in the region indicate that the epidemic circulation of ZIKV has been interrupted in Caribbean territories, adding this is based on congruency of data available from several sources and on experience of previous outbreaks of mosquito-borne viral diseases in the region.

CARPHA said that local surveillance in member states has demonstrated both a decrease in general fever-related illness as well as a specific absence of ZIKV reports over the past year.

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