It is inevitable the zika virus will hit this country, warned Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh at a workshop to develop a regional network on surveillance and diagnosis of emerging vector-borne diseases in the Caribbean.
The workshop was held yesterday at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre in Port-of-Spain.
The minister said there were no confirmed cases of the virus in this country.
Deyalsingh said members of the public also played a major part in keeping their premises clean, adding that education was also key in ensuring that.
"The ministry has been putting out bulletins and other information to talk about zika and alert the population.
"This is not a severe illness as chikungunya or dengue but there are some concerns that zika will come to T&T at some point," Deyalsingh added.
He said in Brazil, for instance, there was a link between zika and babies being born with small heads.
"So that is something we are going to be alerting the public about, but it hasn't been confirmed that those babies born with small heads is as a result of zika," Deyalsingh added.
Asked whether hospitals were prepared to deal with zika, he said most cases could be treated at home.
"The population which is most susceptible are children and the elderly. Keep them hydrated, keep the fever down and give them paracetamol," Deyalsingh said.
He said chikungunya still posed a problem to T&T as it "comes and goes in waves."
On the issue of vacant lots, he said the laws remained unclear as to whose responsibility it was to clean them.
The minister added that too many people were squatting along the riverbeds, another possible breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"It is clear we cannot become complacent and consider yellow fever and malaria to be historical diseases fit only for our archives.
"Given the environmental impact of globalisation, urbanisation and climate change, the Caribbean region will continue to wage war with emerging and re-emerging vector-borne diseases," Deyalsingh added.
Zika fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by zika virus consisting of mild fever, rash (mostly maculo-papular), headaches, arthralgia, myalgia, asthenia, and non-purulent conjunctivitis, occurring about three to 12 days after the mosquito vector bite.
One out of four people may not develop symptoms but in those who are affected the disease is usually mild with symptoms that can last between two and seven days.
Its clinical manifestation is often similar to dengue, also a mosquito-borne illness.
Source: Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO)