VI issues advisory on chikungunya

By Caribbean Medical News Staff

Since the announcement of three confirmed cases of chikungunya and the rapid spread of the mosquito- borne illness in the region, the U.S.V.I has issued a travel advisory through the Virgin Islands Health Department to those traveling to the region.
“It is important to note that these confirmed cases were not exposed to travel, which alerts us that the virus is already in our mosquito population,” said Dr. Ronald Georges, Medical Officer of Health in the BVI Ministry of Health and Social Development, said in the prepared statement.
According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), chikungunya has been spreading rapidly throughout the region with the first case being confirmed in the French West Indian island of St. Martin on December 6th and spreading ever since across the OECS, Jamaica, Guyana and other areas.
Chikungunya is a virus that is transmitted to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease usually presents with high fever, joint pain, severe headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain and rash. The joint pain may last up to two years in some cases and the elderly, already ill and babies are especially vulnerable.
The symptoms of Chikungunya are similar to dengue fever and there is a remote possibility of misdiagnosis without a blood test and blood tests are encouraged.
Dr. Hillary Woodson, a physician at Red Hook Family Practice on St. Thomas, said she is not more concerned with Chikungunya than dengue fever.
“I do tell my pregnant patients – part of my counseling for them – is to get a mosquito net for the crib,” she said.
Elimination includes surveillance and eradication of breeding sites and protection also involves the use of mosquito nets, long sleeves, long pants and vector-control by way of fogging.
Recently, the VI Government said that the three confirmed Chikungunya cases were not imported cases.
To date there have been hundreds of confirmed cases of Chikungunya in the Caribbean with several suspected cases.

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