PORT-OF-SPAIN: Trinidad & Tobago has become the latest Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country to record cases of the Chikungunya virus after it was first detected in the region last December.
Health Minister Dr. Fuad Khan said the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed three cases.
“The Ministry of Health has already been in contact with these patients to ensure the appropriate clinical care is received,” said Dr. Khan. “Through our Insect Vector Control Division, we have begun the work of minimizing the spread of the vectors through the implementation of appropriate integrated vector management strategies.”
Khan said the disease, which is preventable, is spread by the vectors which spread dengue. He appealed to nationals to take appropriate measures to ensure their environment is clean and that they do their best “to stop mosquitoes from breeding in your homes, your schools, your neighbourhood and our country”.
Khan said the authorities have launched “a robust health promotion campaign” to ensure that citizens have the “necessary knowledge to be so empowered to protect you and your families from this disease”.
The mosquito-borne illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St. Martin. Since then, almost all CARICOM countries have reported cases of the disease.
CARPHA director, Dr. James Hospedales, said the Chikungunya virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean.
Chikungunya is caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Chikungunya rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most people who get sick feel better within a week. However, for some people, the joint pain may last for months or years.
The disease can be severe in newborns who are infected around the time of birth, or in people with diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.