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Ministry of Health has plan to deal with chikungunya


SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Ministry of Health has plan to deal with chikungunya

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THERE HAVE been no cases of chikungunya detected in Barbados to date but the Ministry of Health assures the public that it has the capability to respond efficiently to any possible cases. 
Chikungunya means “that which bends up” in the Makonde language spoken in Mozambique and Tanzania, referring to the stooped bodies of infected persons.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) released a report last Friday stating that 10 confirmed cases, four probable cases and 20 suspected cases of the chikungunya virus infection had been identified in the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.
The Ministry of Health emphasizes that Barbados has a strong environmental health system in place which is staffed by health personnel who are trained to identify “and appropriately handle vector borne diseases such as chikungunya”.
Additionally, there is an epidemiological surveillance system in place with a team of health personnel who collect and analyse data, as well as planned responses to the various infectious diseases presenting at public health care facilities on a weekly basis.
Local health officials were also involved in the fashioning of a Preparedness and Response Plan for Chikungunya Virus in the Caribbean Sub-region during training in Kingston, Jamaica, last year.
Subsequently, a workshop was held in Barbados in September 2012 for the training of more local health personnel.
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.
Haemorrhagic complications are not associated with chikungunya.
There is no vaccine for chikungunya.  Treatment is symptomatic and may include rest, fluids, and medication for fever and pain. Aspirin should be avoided. (PR)

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