Jamaica says Caribbean must establish single approach to prevent spread of chikungunya

Fenton-Ferguson

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson said Jamaica is at risk because of the broad distribution of the vector, as well as the high mobility of persons around the region. (File photo)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday April 8, 2014, CMC – Jamaica has called for a regional approach to the fight against the introduction and spread of the chikungunya disease.

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson participating in a briefing to launch World Health Day 2014, which is being observed Monday with the theme “Small Bite, Big Threat” said there is no treatment or vaccine for disease spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals from mosquito bites.

Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue.

The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalisation are rare.

The first case of the disease in the Caribbean was reported in the French island of St. Martin last year. Since then it has spread to several countries with Dominica and St. Lucia last week urging nationals to adhere to measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Dr. Ferguson said Jamaica is at risk because of the broad distribution of the vector, as well as the high mobility of persons around the region.

He suggested that all countries in the Americas implement the recommendations of PAHO/WHO in the guidelines entitled: ‘Preparedness and Response for Chikungunya Virus, Introduction in the Americas’. These include detection of cases through establishing and strengthening Dengue surveillance systems; managing cases through training and assessment of impact on society; and implementation of effective public communication strategies. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)