MORE CHIKUNGUNYA CASES REPORTED IN THE CARIBBEAN REGION
July 3 15:03
GEORGETOWN (Guyana),Health Minister Dr Bheri Ramsaran disclosed that there are 12 more confirmed cases
of the mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya in Guyana. Ramsaran said that some results from samples sent
recently for testing at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago were received
on Tuesday, and that epidemiologist Dr Morris Edwards is analysing the data.
Prior to the new cases, there were 19 confirmed cases, all from the Canje, Berbice area, Region Six.
Chikungunya is an arthropod-borne virus that is transmitted to humans by the Aedes egypti mosquito.
While Guyana has the facility in the form of the National Public Health Reference Laboratory that is equipped,
it doesn’t have staff trained to conduct tests for chikungunya, hence the samples have to be sent to Trinidad
and Tobago for testing.
The minister also revealed that the health ministry has secured training for a National Public Health Laboratory biomedical technologist in Atlanta, USA. That person will, among other things, be trained in laboratory diagnostics for chikungunya. Ramsaran had approached the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) a few weeks ago, seeking to access training for lab staff.
Guyana recorded its first cases in late May, a toddler and a woman in her forties, both from the Canje area. Immediately, the ministry’s vector control services conducted extensive fogging of the area.
Ramsaran said public health measures are still ongoing to rid communities of mosquitoes, including indoor fogging.
Cayman islands have confirmed the first local case of imported chikungunya illness by a returning resident.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said the patient, who was treated and released from the Cayman Islands Hospital last week, is no longer infectious. He also confirmed that there is no evidence of local transmission of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands.
“Chikungunya is not directly transmitted from person to person, but a mosquito biting a person with chikungunya fever can spread the virus to another person. Hence persons, who develop symptoms within two weeks of having returned from countries with chikungunya cases, are considered imported,” Kumar explained.
Meanwhile, in St Kitts and Nevis, the number of suspected and/or confirmed chikungunya cases is in the hundreds, according to Chief Medical Officer Patrick Martin.
"We’re up to about 30 confirmed cases up to about a week ago, but there are more suspect cases, or cases that are clinically confirmed," Martin said in giving an update on the situation in the federation.
The CMO said he expects chikungunya to be around for a while yet.
"More and more persons have been experiencing chikungunya. We expect this to continue for several more months before it starts to level off, because it's a new disease and it really has to go through the population,” he said.
According to hemispheric health agencies, the number of suspected chikungunya cases in the Americas rose to more than 185,000 by June 20. So far this year, 26 Caribbean countries have reported over 4,970 confirmed cases.
The Caribbean countries reporting chikungunya: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands Cuba, Dominica, Dominica Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Barthelemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Martin, St
Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands , US Virgin Islands and Venezuela. The disease arrived in the Caribbean in December last year.