USVI and Tobago fighting chikungunya

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Tobago is confirming its very first case of chikungunya meanwhile the USVI is ramping up its efforts to fight the illness with the US Virgin Islands Commissioner of Health, Darice Plaskett, stating that the USVI will start a seamless strategy to counter the illness with its recently concluded a multiagency task force conference call to control the spread of chikungunya and dengue disease.

Eight months after the disease showed up in St. Martin Tobago has confirmed its first case while Trinidad has confirmed several. Throughout the region, there have been numerous confirmations and suspected cases being reported by various Ministries of Health and CARPHA.

Tobago’s Secretary for Health Claudia Groome-Duke told the public that they will do all that is necessary to stop the spread of the painful illness but asked that residents also play their part in surveillance and ridding the premises of stagnant water.

Meanwhile, The Commissioner of Health, Darice Plaskett, confirmed that the DOH will be providing training to help mitigate the current mosquito populations in order to insure that all hands are on deck to clean-up our mosquito infestations. In addition to the efforts to safeguard the general public also has established a means to train facility maintenance staff in ALL government agencies, the private sector, and other interested organizations. By empowering others to do point source application of breeding sites with ultra-effective pesticides we expect to see a decrease in the population of disease carrying mosquitoes. Waste Management’s Executive Director, May Cornwall stated “Waste Management conducts larviciding at our public trash repositories and will aid the department in its efforts to address other areas of concern.”

DOT Commissioner, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, and the Commissioner of the DLCA, Wayne Biggs, were also heavily involved in the dialog and as a result the team of commissioners continue to support hotels and other business owners with information that will equip them and their patrons with the knowledge of the most effective products and practices.

DOH continues to strengthen efforts between DOH Clinics, providers, and our local hospitals DOH met with the clinical staff at Community Health Clinic in St. Thomas in order to alleviate any surge of affected community members. Health Epidemiologist, Dr. Esther Ellis, the Health Commissioner, Darice Plaskett, and Medical Director, Dr. Marc Jerome gave a formal training and Q and A which resulted in a successful transition. St. Thomas’ Community Health clinic will now be better prepared to see patients with suspected chikungunya and/or dengue. The clinic staff will also be making neighborhood rounds to do public outreach and strengthen the department’s awareness efforts.

As the multi-agency taskforce moves forward in their efforts the entire team of Commissioners and Government House officials ask that we continue to spread the message and Fight the Bite:

  • Use insect repellents – Repellents containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Apply repellent only to exposed skin or clothing, follow product instructions carefully. Do not use repellents on babies less than 2 months of age.
  • Reduce the number of mosquitoes in and around your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets. Empty water out of old drums, tires, plants in water, plastic containers, and other items that are not being used. Turn outdoor containers upside down when not in use to prevent water collection or drain them weekly. Make sure your cistern is tightly covered so that mosquitoes cannot get inside and lay eggs.
  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • Wear clothing that protects you from mosquito bites (long-sleeved shirts and long pants).
  • Protect infants: cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with cotton mosquito netting at all times, day and night, both inside and outside of your home. Dress babies in loose cotton clothing that covers arms and leg.
  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.

Health authorities in the region have advised that the public seek emergency medical attention for any of the following symptoms:

  • Neurologic symptoms including irritability, drowsiness, severe headaches, sensitivity to light,
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or persistent vomiting,
  • Fever persisting for more than five days,
  • Intractable severe pain, extreme weakness, cold extremities, cyanosis, decreased urine output, and bleeding under skin or through any orifice,

Women in the last trimester of pregnancy, newborns, and persons with underlying disease or weakened immune systems who are most at risk for severe illness.


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