To date, Barbados remains free of the chikungunya virus despite its presence in some neighbouring Caribbean islands.

This assurance has come from Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Kenneth George, who affirmed that the Ministry of Health was ???monitoring the situation???.

Dr. George stated that chikungunya had been identified in the region within the last two to three months, and noted that while there have been no cases in Barbados, the Ministry of Health was urging members of the public to adhere to certain measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

???The basic prevention and control methods include: inspecting your property to make sure that there are no areas where water settles or can settle; cooperating with the Environmental Health personnel of the Ministry of Health with respect to the fogging programme; and taking protective measures such as applying mosquito repellant and using a mosquito net when visiting any island in the Eastern Caribbean,??? he explained.

He added that persons who develop fever, headache, joint pain and general feeling of ill health should seek immediate medical attention.

Pointing out that both the disease and its vector may be introduced to the island by infected persons or cargo coming from a country which has cases of chikungunya, the Health official affirmed that the Ministry was taking action to heighten the awareness of this island???s Port Health officials.

???This heightened awareness is expected to lead to the early identification of travellers who have symptoms of the disease. Additionally, the Ministry of Health will maintain surveillance at our ports of entry, and provide insecticide treatments of cargo which enter the country,??? Dr. George stated.

Chikungunya, a virus similar to dengue, is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito as well as the Aedes albopictus mosquito. The symptoms are similar to dengue fever and may include a sudden high fever, headache, rash, nausea and muscle pain.

However, stiffness and severe joint pain, especially in the wrists, knuckles or ankles are more often associated with chikungunya. Fever may last from a few days to weeks and some infected persons have reported debilitating arthritic pain persisting for months.

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