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TAKE PROPER HEALTH PRECAUTIONS BEFORE VISITING HURRICANE-STRICKENED AREAS, WARNS HEALTH MINISTER

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The Ministry of Health advises that deployed service persons, volunteers and members of the public who are travelling to islands affected by Hurricane Irma should take appropriate health precautions.  These measures include updating travel vaccinations and taking extra precautions with food, water and the prevention of insect bites.

Members of the Bermuda Regiment and Bermuda Police Service forces and a Bermuda Hospitals Board staff member have been deployed to the islands to help.  The Department of Health answered the call for medical supplies that will be distributed, many of which were generously donated by Bermuda’s medical supply vendors. Many private individuals and professionals may also be interested in going to the islands to help bring relief.

Risks to those travelling to areas with damaged infrastructure include:

·        Diarrheal diseases due to lack of access to safe drinking water

·        Cholera transmission in areas with previous transmission

·        Acute Respiratory infections (especially in children) due to overcrowded shelters

·        Flood-specific risks (e.g. tetanus, leptospirosis)

·        Mosquito-borne diseases

Minister of Health Kim Wilson said: “We remain concerned for our island neighbours to the south and many Bermudians will wish to help. I applaud our community’s altruism and willingness to assist, and would only remind travellers to affected regions to be careful of their personal health.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball added, “Before going, ensure your vaccinations are up-to-date including tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera (based on destination), and typhoid. Protect yourself by drinking safe water, eating well cooked food and protect yourself against insect bites, both day and night”.

Follow these guidelines:

·        Ensure drinking water is safe by chlorination or boiling

·        Wash hands with soap and water frequently

·        Only eat thoroughly cooked food

·        Wash fruit and vegetables with bottled or chlorinated water

·        Avoid eating raw seafood

·        Use mosquito repellent  and wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers

·        Use mosquito nets for sleeping or sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms

The public can help by donating toward the purchase of supplies and equipment needed, like safe drinking water, containers for storing water and general items for hygiene and sanitation.

To donate, here are just a few avenues available in Bermuda: 

Contact the West Indies Association in Bermuda for fundraising efforts

Donations to Bermuda Red Cross through BNTB: 20-006-060-663859-200, or call 236-8253

Donate to the Salvation Army online at: sar.my/amappeal

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