The Ministry of Health is continuing to monitor an outbreak of chikungunya disease in the French overseas territories and Dutch St. Maarten.
New cases have also been detected in one of the British Virgin Islands. However, no cases have been detected in Barbados to date.
According to the World Health Organization, between December 6 and December 31, 2013, transmission of the chikungunya virus had been documented in five French overseas territories.
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 a few weeks and some infected patients have reported debilitating arthritic pain persisting for weeks or months. Severe forms of the disease do not frequently occur.
There is no vaccine for chikungunya. Treatment is symptomatic and may include rest, fluids, and medication for fever and pain. However, aspirin should be avoided.
The Ministry of Health will continue to conduct epidemiological surveillance to collect and analyse data from the various public healthcare facilities on a weekly basis. It will also carry out training to update healthcare workers on the implementation of the Preparedness and Response Plan for the chikungunya virus.
Members of the public are advised to continue to search out and destroy mosquitoes on their properties to prevent the spread of vector borne diseases. Individuals may be guided by a checklist on the prevention of dengue, which has been mailed to households.
This checklist may be downloaded from the Ministry???s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/moh.barbados.??