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Chikungunya virus detected in Guyana

Minister of Health Dr Bheri Ramsaran updates the media on vector control. Head of the Vector Control Services; Dr Reyaud Rahman is at left while the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Shamdeo Persaud is at right. Next to the CMO is the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Leslie Cadogan.

Guyana has confirmed two cases of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, in the Canje, Berbice area, according to Health Minister, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran.

He was quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that in the wake of the discovery, a team has been dispatched to fog the area over the next two weeks. 

The two cases, a toddler, and a woman said to be in her forties are from Cumberland and Canefield, Canje, Region Six.

Ramsarran told news briefing that the discovery was made last week after some 30 samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad for testing.

 He indicated that the Ministry has decided to heighten their vector control exercise in the Berbice area.

In addition, the Minister said the Ministry has already identified all port of entries for strict monitoring, as well as health centres have been alerted.

“Since last year, we have been quietly getting our work done by increasing fogging activities, public health awareness programmes, spraying and at the same time education programmes to encourage citizens especially in densely populated areas to desist from degrading their environment which will create condition for breeding of mosquitoes.”

The Minister said this will help in the fight against all types of vector borne diseases, including, malaria and dengue.

“We have been following our data and we have been taking samples as is recommended by good public health practice and these samples are sent overseas for testing.”

Meanwhile the Minister said all health facilities have readily available medication for the effective treatment of any vector borne disease. He added that the symptoms are similar to those associated with dengue fever.

Further the fogging exercise that has been ongoing gin the city for several weeks will continue and persons are advised to adhere to the warning during this exercise.

The Ministry is encouraging citizens to appropriately discard tyres, unwanted containers, and to keep their surroundings clean so as to eliminate breeding grounds for the vector.

The most common symptoms of Chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countriesin Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, the illness was found for the first time in the Caribbean, and now several countries have reported cases.