The Ministry of Health and Human Services (MOHHS) said it has received a number of queries about a possible salmonella outbreak in the TCI. This has not been confirmed but investigations are continuing into the reasons for an increase in the number of cases of diarrhea and vomiting over the last several weeks.
To this end, a response public health team has already begun investigating these reports under guidelines established by the Caribbean Epidemiology Center (CAREC) and Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
MOHHS has reminded health practitioners of their reporting obligations/activities; to report any unusual or increased health activity to the Ministry of Health as soon as possible and to remind patients about proper food safety and hygiene practices.
The MOHHS said that all precautions are being taken to ensure the health of Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) residents and visitors. The Environmental Health Department continues to carry out ongoing assessments and monitoring of all food establishments throughout the TCI to ensure that all premises are operating according to Public and Environmental Health requirements. Additionally, the MOHHS is working closely with the InterHealth Canada hospitals and the TCI health care community at large.
The MOHHS has also advised residents and visitors to continue with safe universal hygiene practices such as, covering your cough, frequent hand washing particularly after using the toilet and before preparing and/or eating food. The MOHHS said it will continue to follow the situation and issue updates as necessary.
The Ministry of Health also reminded the TCI community of the importance of minimising opportunities to spread illness-causing germs during the holiday season, as most festive celebrations involve food being served.
“For the cooks, food-handlers or servers of food; kindly remember to practice proper food safety and personal hygiene measures at all times to prevent the spread of germs that can be the Grinch that ruin the holiday season for everyone. In addition, all persons affiliated with the hotel industry (hoteliers, taxi drivers, etc) and persons at our air and seaports must be proactive and take extra precautions especially in the areas of food safety and personal hygiene practices,” the ministry said.