The Ministry of Health has assured the public that it is continuing to closely monitor the outbreak of chikungunya in Barbados through its surveillance system, which includes submission of information from polyclinics, as well as the private health care sector.
The Ministry disclosed that since chikungunya was unknown to the Caribbean region until December last year, there was no natural immunity to the disease among the local population, and therefore it was expected that many more people will become ill.
It noted that while it was aware that there had been a general increase in persons with chikungunya symptoms, some people who became ill were not included in the reported cases because they might not have sought medical attention.
Also, as the number of cases increased, the Caribbean Public Health Agency, which carries out the testing, has advised that it was not necessary to test all persons presenting symptoms. High risk groups, including children under 15, persons over 60 years and pregnant women, are particularly advised to seek medical attention if they have symptoms.
The Ministry reminds Barbadians to give priority to reducing mosquito breeding around their premises. They are advised to pay particular attention to securely storing or covering domestic water storage containers, such as buckets, barrels and drums.
Old tyres and containers that collect water, such as bottles, cans and coconut shells, should be properly discarded. Householders should also ensure that septic tanks and soak-aways are well sealed.??Householders and property owners are reminded that under the Health Service Control of Mosquito Regulations 1970, Cap 44, they may be prosecuted if mosquitoes are found breeding on their premises.
Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet. Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash.