– as Health Ministry continues efforts to combat Chikungunya virus
Even as moves are being made to intensify the campaign to control the potential impact of the Chikungunya virus in the Berbice area, over 130 blood samples were taken in recent days from persons found to be suffering from symptoms of fever. This is according to officials currently engaged in a campaign to combat the virus.
Just last week two cases of the virus – a four-year-old girl and a 50-year-old woman – were found in the Canje section of Berbice. They are both being treated for the virus which has similarities to dengue fever.
The two cases found were confirmed two Fridays ago are from two separate households – one in Canefield and another from Cumberland – this publication understands.
The cases were confirmed by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Laboratory. They were among a set of 30 samples that were taken a few weeks earlier.
The recent samples taken will also be sent for testing at the CARPHA Laboratory.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which is quite common along the coast of Guyana. The disease is one that is known to cause a moderate to severe ailment that can be life threatening with symptoms including fever, rash, muscle and joint pains.
According to Director of Vector Control Services, Dr Reyaud Rahman, who has been spearheading vector control activities mainly characterised by intense fogging of the areas where persons were found with fever symptoms. In fact Dr Rahman disclosed that “we are doing house to house spraying and we are even spraying the schools as well.”
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, noted that while the transmission of the virus is facilitated by mosquitoes, when it reaches an endemic state the possibility exists that it can use animals as reservoirs. “That is one way that the virus can stay around…you might get rid of the human part but primates like monkeys and other mammals can actually harbour the virus…of course mosquito bite humans but other warn blooded-mammals also; so when you have that animal loop it gets a little bit more difficult to control and eliminate,” said Dr Persaud.
Moreover, the Health Ministry’s Veterinary Public Health Department is currently involved in the strategic efforts to combat the virus.
According to Dr Persaud, the Ministry will sustain a regular cycle of fogging in the populated areas of Regions Four, Six and other Regions too, although especially intensified efforts will be sustained in the Canje area.
He however cautioned that controlling the situation is not only about “vector control alone. This mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is really a domestic mosquito and doesn’t breed in dirty drains but in clean collection of water, like water barrels and vases in the home…It is a bigger effort to try to reduce breeding sites,” said Dr Persaud.
“We are encouraging people with these symptoms such as high fevers above 39 degrees with associated joint pain, back pain, muscle pain, any form of rash to seek medical attention because early intervention can prevent complications from occurring,” said Dr Persaud.
He disclosed that while Chikungunya itself is not a high cause of death directly, it can however have some long term effects such as joint pains.
The resulting fever together with pain, particularly in young children, Dr Persaud said, could lend to bouts of convulsions and even cause dehydration. There have even been rare occasions, the CMO said, when the virus has been known to be associated with the Guillain Barre Syndrome which is a paralytic disease that causes the body to become paralysed.
“Even with medical care you might still experience this pain depending on how the body reacts beyond the incubation period,” said Dr Persaud. This period can span two to six days with symptoms usually appearing four to seven days after infection.
Guyana has been on high alert ever since reports surfaced of the virus’ entry into parts of the Caribbean last year.
According to Dr Persaud, on December 12 last year CARPHA was informed of 10 transmitted confirmed cases on the French side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.
Since then more than 1,800 confirmed cases were reported from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Martinique Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenades, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Barthelemy, Saint Maarten and Saint Martin. Three confirmed resulting deaths were reported by Martinique and St. Martin.
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