Puerto Rico's health department has declared a dengue fever epidemic in the country, just a week before 700 delegates arrive for the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress. ICCA representatives have said the outbreak is not expected to impact the congress but is issuing advice to members.
According to reports in the US, Puerto Rico’s health secretary Lorenzo Gonzalez has said that at least six people have died and a total of 4,816 cases have been reported. Dengue fever is not uncommon in Puerto Rico, but the number of suspected cases is higher than the usual annual spike. At this point, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not issued any travel warning regarding Puerto Rico.
ICCA has now released a statement to members regarding the outbreak and will have mosquito repellent available throughout the congress.
Chief executive Martin Sirk is already in Puerto Rico. He said in a statement: “You may have seen recent media reports about an outbreak of dengue fever on the island of Puerto Rico. We’ve been in regular contact with the Puerto Rico authorities to check on the situation and have set up links for members to obtain full factual information. In summary, these are the key issues: Dengue outbreaks occur from time to time throughout this region of the world, but the health authorities in Puerto Rico have well practiced procedures for tackling the problem and good public information is made available.
“The areas directly affected on this occasion are not close to where ICCA activities are taking place, but some members are taking pre- and post-congress trips to other areas of the island so should check the health authority information about where they will be travelling.
“Dengue is transmitted only by mosquito bite, so ICCA and our local hosts are making sure that adequate supplies of mosquito repellent will be available throughout the congress, and we will be reminding the delegates about the importance of applying this protection. Previous dengue outbreaks have not affected travel to the island, and this recent outbreak should not impact this year’s ICCA Congress in any way. The advance congress organising team is already on site in San Juan, as am I, and I can report that normal conference and tourism activity is entirely unaffected.”
*The Puerto Rico Local Host Committee has also created the website: http://www.meetpuertorico.com/icca2012/useful-information.html with the latest information for delegates.
Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that is mosquito-borne and not uncommon in tropical areas. Symptoms include severe headaches, fever and joint and muscle pain. Visitors to areas with dengue fever are advised to wear clothing which covers their skin and use insect repellent to avoid being bitten.
The congress takes place from 20-24 October at the Puerto Rico Convention Center Pedro Rosselló in San Juan.
PIC: Martin Sirk