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Help combat new mosquito-borne virus, Chikungunya – Health Ministry

Guyana has joined a Caribbean-wide battle against Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said on Wednesday.

While there were no reported cases in Guyana, he said authorities would be waging a war against mosquitoes and be on the look out for persons complaining of symptoms.

“The Ministry is coordinating with all stakeholders both locally and regionally to ensure that coordinated efforts are implemented to prevent and mitigate the effects of Chikungunya on the Guyanese population.

Heightened efforts will concentrate on Vector Control, Epidemiology and Surveillance, Laboratory detection of cases as well as the Clinical management of cases,” said Persaud in a statement,” the ministry stated.

The Chief Medical Officer explained that Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which transmits Dengue, also transmits Chikungunya. He said there is no vaccine or treatment for Chikungunya. “We do emphasis the need for the public to recognize that their role is pivotal for the prevention and control of Chikungunya,” he added.

Chikungunya is a viral disease, carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and causes a dengue-like sickness. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to ten days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalization are rare. The Health Ministry urged persons with those symptoms to seek urgent medical attention.

“Members of the public who might be experiencing these symptoms or know of someone experiencing these symptoms are encouraged to seek medical assistance from the nearest health facility,” said the Chief Medical Officer.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) was informed of 10 locally transmitted confirmed cases of Chikungunya on the French side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin on December 12, 2-013. The World Health Organization – International Health Regulations (WHO-IHR) confirmed that a new viral infection was actively being transmitted in the Caribbean and poses a threat to health. Since then more than 1,400 confirmed cases were reported, from Anguilla (1 case), Aruba (1 case), British Virgin Islands (5 cases), Dominica (4 Cases), French Guiana (4 Cases), Guadeloupe (175 cases), Martinique (518 cases), St. Barthelemy (83 Cases), Saint Maarten (65 cases) and St. Martin (601 cases). One confirmed death was reported by St. Martin.

The Health Ministry urged Guyanese to take the necessary steps to help prevent mosquito-breeding and bites by that insect.

•    Elimination of potential mosquito breeding sites indoors and outdoors
•    keeping water drums and barrels tightly covered
•    disposing of stagnant water from flower vases, old tyres, and other containers that
     might act as breeding sites.
•    Ensuring waterways and drains are not blocked with debris and free flowing
Protection from mosquito bites can be obtained by using bed nets, insect repellant and long sleeved clothing or pants.