PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Monday July 14, 2014, CMC – Trinidad and Tobago has become the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to record cases of the Chikunguyna virus after the the disease was first detected in the region last December.
Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan said that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) had confirmed the three cases.
“The Ministry of Health has already been in contact with these patients to ensure the appropriate clinical care is received. Through our Insect Vector Control Division, we have begun the work of minimizing the spread of the vectors through the implementation of appropriate integrated vector management strategies,” Dr. Khan said.
He added the disease, which is preventable, is spread by the very vectors which spread dengue and appealed to nationals to take appropriate measures to ensure their environment is clean and that they do their best “to stop mosquitoes from breeding in your homes, your schools, your neighbourhood and our country”.
Dr. Khan said the authorities have launched “a robust health promotion campaign” to ensure that citizens have the “necessary knowledge to be so empowered to protect you and your families from this disease”.
The mosquito-borne illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St Martin, and since then almost all CARICOM countries have reported cases of the disease.
CARPHA director Dr James Hospedales said the Chikungunya virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean.
He said while it is not a severe disease, “in that people don’t die from it, whereas dengue can kill you, but Chikungunya has more long term a significant percent of people will have joint pains one year, two years afterwards”.
The symptoms can often be severe and disabling and joint pain is known to sometimes last for months, but fortunately most people begin to feel better in a week or so. The disease can be severe in newborns who are infected around the time of birth, or in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.