“Don’t let anyone fool you; we can’t do the test,” insisted Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo, as he commented on the advice being reportedly offered by some medical professionals that testing for the Chikungunya virus can be done here.
According to Dr. Persaud, the Chikungunya test cannot be done at any health facility in Guyana. He pointed out too that Guyana is still relying on the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad to do all testing of its blood samples.
Guyana with the support of the Pan American Health Organisation, is currently working on having personnel of the National Reference Laboratory trained to utilise the equipment available there to conduct the test.
But according to Dr. Persaud, testing may not always be necessary. He pointed out that “you don’t need to go testing regularly all the time.” He therefore explained that persons with symptoms of the virus could in fact be treated with panadol which can help to appease fever and pains associated with the condition.
Intensified symptoms, he added, could be treated with ibuprofen or fever injections. “There are things you can use to treat the symptoms but there is no fancy antibiotic or any other thing to fight Chikungunya,” said Dr. Persaud even as he insisted that persons should not be fooled into thinking that there is any cure for the virus.
He went on to emphasise that while symptomatic treatment is especially important in helping to deal with infected persons, great focus must also be placed on reducing the prevalence of the virus which is believed to have invaded many sections of the country.
As part of its efforts to deal with the virus efforts have been made by the Health Ministry to do fogging and residual spraying with chemicals but according to the CMO, who claims he isn’t an advocate for the use of chemicals, “removing the breeding sites of the mosquito could be even more effective.”
Moreover, he is adamant that persons should be seeking to help tackle the public health challenge by simply ensuring that the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, the transmitting vector, is not able to thrive in bodies of water in their environment.
He explained that the mosquito is able to breed in containers or locations that hold water that can be considered relatively clean.
He disclosed that even water in vases should be changed at least every three days while tanks, drums and other containers of potable water should be securely covered to prevent access to the vector.
Such measures, according to Dr. Persaud, could prove effective in helping to reduce the impact of the virus which can easily multiply in as little as seven days.
The virus which is manifested within a few days after infection is characterised by symptoms including headache, nausea, skin rash, high fever and muscle and joint pains. The latter pains can prove to be quite debilitating over a prolonged period.
Reports out of the Health Ministry suggest that there are just over 70 confirmed cases of the virus but there are an even greater number of suspected cases among members of the population.
The virus, which was first detected in Canje, East Berbice, Region Six, has since been confirmed in other areas of the country including Regions Three, Four, Five and 10, Dr. Persaud said.
According to him too, at least three confirmed cases in Region 10 have been categorised as imported cases, as they are not believed to have occurred in that section of the country but were rather caused by travel to infected areas.
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