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Number of Chikungunya cases rises

The number of confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease, Chikungunya, continues to soar in Berbice, largely due to more persons coming forward to be tested as a result of an aggressive public awareness campaign there, usually reliable sources said Monday night.

Health Minister, Dr. Bheri Ramsarran declined to speak, when contacted by telephone. Calls to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud went unanswered.

So far 11 samples have been tested positive by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The official said none of the patients infected with the virus has travelled overseas.

 More than 100 additional samples have been also sent for testing, but the source noted that the percentage of confirmed cases has been quite small.

Officials expect to see a rise in the number of confirmed cases before the incidence of the disease begins to decrease.

Health authorities have been on outreaches to several communities where they have been educating residents about the disease and taking blood samples from persons who complain of flu-like or dengue-like symptoms. “The good thing is that people are more educated,” the sources said.

The officials said villages across Berbice are being fogged, yards and homes sprayed and water treated with chemicals that are not harmful to humans.  

Medical experts say  Chikungunya is not deadly, but the “debilitating” condition may last one to two weeks. The aged, pregnant women and persons with diabetes and hypertension are usually worst affected. The experts said there is no cure and so the illness must run its course even though medication is given to ease the pain and fever. The good news, they said, is that previously infected persons are immune from the disease in the future.

A source believed that the first case of Chikungunya in Berbice was seen by a private institution but the doctor violated Guyana’s law by failing to report that a patient had seen with a fever and rash. “I suspect that the index case was seen by a private institution or a private doctor but it was not reported to the health authorities and that is a violation of the law because all cases of fever and rash are reportable by law,” the source said.

The two persons in Berbice, who were first confirmed as having contracted the virus, also did not travel overseas, the sources said.