St Lucia health officials: Chikungunya virus outbreak “much worse” than reports indicate

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chikungunyaCASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tuesday May 27, 2014, CMC – Health officials are warning of an increase in the number of cases of chikungunya virus and that the “situation on the ground is believed to be much worse than the figures presented”.

Epidemiologist Neham Jn Baptiste said the island had so far recorded 20 confirmed cases and 120 suspected cases of the virus that is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

“The situation on the ground is believed to be much worse than the figures presented as according to information from the Ministry of Health.

“Some persons with chikungunya have opted to use home remedies like bush medicine, rather than reporting their condition to a doctor or health clinic,” he added.

He said that it is very important to know which areas are affected so as to provide strategic environmental control.

While the virus is more prevalent among women, Jn Baptiste said that pregnant women especially must be protected from contracting the virus which he said could be much more harmful to this group.

Chikungunya, a virus more commonly found in Africa and Asia and transmitted by the same daytime-biting aedes aegypti mosquito that causes the more deadly dengue fever, was first detected in the eastern Caribbean five months ago.

Since then, it has jumped from island to island, sending thousands of patients to the hospital with painful joints, pounding headaches and spiking fevers. Chikungunya is normally not deadly and symptoms begin to dissipate within a week.

Jn Baptiste said that with the onset of the rainy season, there is also a higher risk of people contracting dengue.

He warned that the circulation of chikungunya and dengue at the same time could pose as a major public health threat, he warned.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) reports more than 55,000 suspected and confirmed cases in the Caribbean.

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  • Vere Palmer

    So why
    don’t the entire Caribbean nations start eradicating mosquitoes by any means
    necessary. The health of entire nations is at risk and governments give all
    kinda excuses not to act. They can and should get the people involved to
    control mosquitoes.

    Get
    the health people to educate the people in handling their environment. Get them
    to remove the thing mosquito uses to breed. Import machines that attract
    mosquitoes and sell them at a reasonable price to buyers. It’s much cheaper
    that to pay the health bill for those who contact these viruses. Drains and
    backyards should be kept clean and mosquito free. Another idea is to recycle
    all plastic and other containers to avoid mosquito breeding ground.

    These
    are just a few ideas, but I am sure others can come up with many more to help eradicate
    mosquitoes from their environment.

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  • Skillex

    The virus only showed up a year ago. Most likely brought over by tourists. So should they eradicate tourists too?