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More cases of chikungunya reported in St Vincent

Saturday, May 03, 2014    

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KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed 12 new cases of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in St Vincent and the Grenadines, as health authorities step up efforts to eradicate the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that all the cases to date are on the Grenadine island of Bequia.

Chikungunya is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito, resulting in fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

Persons experiencing such signs and symptoms are strongly advised to establish contact with their health care provider, the ministry said.

The illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St Martin, and Antigua and St Vincent and the Grenadines are the latest countries to declare an outbreak.

The head of the CARPHA, Dr James Hospedales, has said the chikungunya virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean.

"By definition this is an epidemic since it represents an unusual number of cases of this problem where we would never have it before," he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

Hospedales said that as of April 28, there were 4,108 cases in 14 countries across the region.

The Ministry of Heath here said that the Insect Vector Control Unit would intensify vector control activities, including fogging operations on Bequia.

"Professionals within the Ministry will continue to participate in interactive programmes on radio stations and conduct educational sessions in various communities on the mainland and also on the Grenadine islands to build awareness of the threat of the disease and how it can be controlled and prevented," said Luis de Shong, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health.

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