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Suspected Chikungunya cases to be diagnosed at airports

Guyana is moving tighten surveillance at ports of entry to prevent the entry of the mosquito-borne disease, Chikungunya, according to the Director of Vector Control Services (VCS), Dr. Reyaud Rahman.

The Government Information Agency (GINA) quoted him as saying that VCS desks would be stationed at the Ogle Airport and later at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). This initiative will see tests being conducted on persons entering Guyana who may be experiencing signs of fever, head aches, pains to the joints and eyes, and vomiting. said that VCS is working closely with port health to have these desks established within a matter of a few weeks at the Ogle airport. 

Dr. Rahman added that while the intention is not to cause any form of inconvenience to passengers, the goal is to identify any case of the disease (Chikungunya) and contain it. The team of medical workers will also be looking at persons who may have visited an island or area that is already affected by the disease. 

Chikungunya virus is an arthropod-borne virus that is transmitted to humans by virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes. It is transmitted similarly to dengue fever and causes an illness with an acute febrile phase lasting two to five days, followed by a longer period of joint pains in the extremities. This pain may persist for years in some cases.

The best means of prevention is overall mosquito control, hence the fogging and smearing exercises being carried out by VCS.  There is no specific treatment currently available for this disease but medication can be used to reduce symptoms.

Since its discovery in Africa, in 1952, outbreaks of chikungunya have occurred occasionally, but recent outbreaks have spread the disease to other parts of the world. Numerous chikungunya re-emergences have been documented in Africa, Asia (India), and Europe, with irregular intervals of 2–20 years between outbreaks.

Currently, chikungunya fever has been identified in nearly 40 countries. In 2008, chikungunya was listed as a US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) category C priority pathogen.

No case of this disease has been found in Guyana thus far, but several Caribbean stated have seen cases such as : Anguilla, Antigua, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Haiti,  St. Kitts, St. Vincent and the Grenadines