Chikungunya spreads to USVI

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

The US Virgin Islands Department of Health has confirmed two new cases of chikungunya virus. The first case has been confirmed as locally acquired; the second case is an imported case with the patient having recent travel history outside of the territory according to press reports

The one “previous imported case” was confirmed on May 12, 2014.

“With the increasing number of confirmed cases reported in the Caribbean, the department of health has been proactively preparing for the introduction of the chikungunya virus into the territory. The department is working closely with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Juan F. Luis Hospital, Schneider Regional Medical Center, VI Waste Management Authority and the VI Department of Tourism to raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus,” said Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett.

“People experiencing symptoms of chikungunya should see a doctor. Healthcare providers should watch for other possible cases of chikungunya. People at increased risk for severe symptoms include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (>65 years) and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease”, said Department of health medical Director, Dr Marc Jerome.

There is no vaccine to prevent the disease or specific antiviral treatment. Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may include severe headaches, fever with severe joint pains (often in the wrists and ankles) severe muscle pain, joint swelling, rash and joint pain may last up to two years after infection. While not usually fatal, the elderly and babies are considered vulnerable.

“The department of health’s ‘Fight the Bite Campaign’ has in the past focused on dengue, the most common mosquito-borne disease in the Virgin Islands. We now add another focus, chikungunya,” Plaskett added.

Chikungunya is reportable by law and all confirmed or suspected cases must be reported to the health department there.

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