Health ministry advises visitors
THE MINISTRY OF Health is continuing to monitor the chikungunya outbreak in Barbados, and has implemented a number of measures to reduce the impact of the disease.
Visitors to the island are advised to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and these include wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when around mosquitoes; using mosquito repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR3535 on exposed skin; using air conditioners where possible; and using mosquito nets and outdoor coils.
In an effort to contain the outbreak, the Ministry has heightened surveillance and increased inspections at the air and sea ports, and is stringently enforcing the World Health Organisation’s International Health regulations at the ports of entry.
There have also been increased inspections of premises, including hotels and guest houses, residential properties, educational institutions, medical facilities, tyre shops, plant nurseries, and underground utility junction boxes.
The Vector Control Unit is in the forefront of chemical and biological mosquito control activities, including weekly island-wide fogging, chemical larvacidal treatments and stocking water settlement with fish.
Regular community-based “walk-throughs” are conducted in collaboration with the Constituency Councils, District Emergency Organisations, Parish Ambassadors and other non-governmental organisations in an effort to sensitise the population about the disease and how it can be prevented. This forms part of a public awareness campaign which also includes the dissemination of information via electronic and printed media, as well as the physical distribution of printed materials.
The Vector Control Unit is also conducting certified vector control training, as well as offering sessions within work places, religious and educational institutions, to educate the community about the disease and how persons can play their part in containing the spread.
Additionally, the Ministry of Health has joined forces with tourism stakeholders, including the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority, to train hotel staff in areas such as mosquito control, inspection and monitoring of properties, chemical and biological control, surveillance and enforcement of Health Services Regulations.
The public is advised that the symptoms of chikungunya are similar to dengue fever, and include a sudden high fever, headache, rash, nausea and muscle pain. However, additional symptoms peculiar to chikungunya are stiffness and severe joint pain, especially in the wrists, knuckles and ankles. (BGIS)