Although no cases of Chikungunya have been detected in Barbados to date, three new cases have been identified and confirmed in one of the Eastern Caribbean Islands.

To this end, the Ministry of Health is continuing to monitor an outbreak of the disease in the Eastern Caribbean islands, the French overseas territories, Dutch St. Maarten, and the British Virgin Islands.

According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), between December 6, 2013 and April 11, this year, local transmission of the Chikungunya virus had been documented in 10 territories.

The Ministry of Health has affirmed that its epidemiological surveillance will continue. This includes the analysis of data from the various public health care facilities on a weekly basis. Additionally, the Ministry will accelerate its fogging campaign throughout the island.

In addition to the efforts being undertaken by the Ministry, members of the public are advised to do all that they can to prevent mosquito breeding and destroy adult mosquitoes around their premises. A check list of guidelines for the eradication of mosquitoes has already been mailed to households across Barbados, and may also be downloaded, along with fact sheets on the chikungunya virus, from the Ministry???s Facebook page

Persons who are travelling to countries where Chikungunya has been reported are also advised to protect themselves by wearing long sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors, using mosquito repellents and by sleeping under an insecticide treated bed-net to prevent themselves from being bitten. If they experience symptoms upon returning home they should seek prompt medical attention.

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 is more often associated with Chikungunya. Fever may last from a few days to a few weeks and some infected patients have reported debilitating arthritic pain persisting for weeks or months.

Author: Ministry of Health/Sharifa Medford

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