There have been no positive cases of Chikungunya in Barbados to date, however, the Ministry of Health is currently investigating seven suspected cases of the disease.

Samples of those persons with symptoms of the disease were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing on Thursday and results are expected soon.

Routine tests of any patient with symptoms of Chikungunya have been conducted since December 2013, when the disease was first reported in the Caribbean region.

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.

Members of the public are advised to take simple measures to protect themselves and their families from contracting Chikungunya. These include spraying inside their homes with insect repellent to kill adult mosquitoes and discarding old containers, buckets, tyres and coconut shells where mosquitoes may breed.

The Ministry of Health is also advising householders to conduct weekly checks of their premises to remove potential mosquito breeding places.

Author: Ministry of Health/Sharifa Medford

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