#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 13, 2020 — The Ministry of Health, Agriculture Sports and Human Services (MOHASHS) of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) wishes to inform the public that there have been reports of cases of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) on Grand Turk.
The Primary Health Care Department is in the process of collecting specimens to be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for confirmatory testing. Primary Health has embarked on an enhanced surveillance and education campaign to ensure that suspected cases are identified as quickly as possible and schools and daycare facilities are educated on the proper implementation of prevention and hygiene measures (e.g. hand washing).
HFMD is a contagious viral illness that primarily affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. It is transmitted by direct contact with nasal secretions, (droplets produced by coughing or sneezing), saliva, fluid from blisters and stool of infected individuals. HFMD is most prevalent in child care settings due to frequent contact with soiled diapers and children putting their hands in their mouths. HFMD occasionally occurs in adolescents and adults.
Symptoms include some or all of the following: painful sores in the mouth, rashes on the hands and feet, which may be associated with blisters, fever, headache, feeling generally unwell or irritable, runny nose, and/or sore throat. It is mostly a mild and self-limiting illness lasting for a few days.
However, there are more severe, albeit uncommon, forms of the disease which are associated with neurological complications as a result of meningitis (associated with fever, headache, and neck stiffness) and encephalitis (resulting in paralysis). Affected persons can sometimes be contagious for days or weeks after the symptoms have ended
There is no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Symptoms are controlled by the use of paracetamol (Panadol or Tylenol) for fever and pain relief, it is often all that is necessary. In some cases, HFMD can cause a sore mouth and throat, which makes it difficult to swallow. It is therefore important to maintain adequate fluid intake to avoid dehydration that could result in hospitalization. Symptoms usually resolve within ten days.
Persons with suspected HFMD should abstain from school and report to a healthcare provider to obtain guidance, including when to return to work, school or daycare.
The MOHAHS will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate.
For more information on HFMD contact your primary health care provider or visit one of our primary health care clinics.
Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.
The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.
The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year. In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.
In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.
Cruising should slow down says PAHO
By Dana Malcolm
‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.
“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”
Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.
Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.
A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.
Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources
By Sherrica Thompson
#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.
Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.
“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.
“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”
Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.
Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.
She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.
There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.
Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.
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