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Health Ministry Continues Preparations as Chikungunya Virus Spreads to Other Caribbean Nations

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Director, Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse is urging Jamaicans to take precaution against the spread of mosquito borne diseases. This comes as the Chikungunya virus (CHIK-V) continues to spread to some Caribbean nations.

“While we have not yet seen the disease in Jamaica, the Ministry of Health continues to put measures in place as part of our preparedness plan. The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito which also spreads dengue and so we have an advantage in terms of being able to use a similar approach.”

She explained that the Ministry of Health has been putting measures in place for more than two years in anticipation of the possibility of CHIK-V reaching our shores.

“Training and sensitization of staff has begun to take place, our surveillance system continues to be strengthened to allow us to quickly detect cases, our vector control programme continues to operate and we have developed a communication strategy,” she said.

Symptoms of Chikungunya fever include high fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain mainly in the limbs and large joints and a rash. Although it does not often result in death, joint pains and stiffness can last for months and even years. It may become a source of chronic pain and disability resulting in the individual being unable to attend work or school.

Infants and the elderly are at greater risk for more severe disease. There are some diseases that may increase the risk for severe disease such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. There is no specific treatment for CHIK-V nor is there a vaccine.

Dr. DuCasse says therefore that the main method of prevention is to protect ourselves from mosquito bites.

“The Aedes aegypti is a day biting mosquito that will almost always be found in and around areas where people live, work and play. The parasite breeds in water that settles around homes, schools, churches, workplaces and playgrounds. Persons are urged to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites in and around their homes, workplaces and communities by getting rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle, punching holes in tins before disposing, and covering large drums, barrels and tanks holding water,” she urged.

By Ministry of Health Public Relations & Communication Unit

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