Saturday, June 7, 2014

Caribbean: Health Officials Warn That Incidence of Chikungunya Virus Rising Throughout Caribbean

According to The Latin American Tribune, leading Caribbean health officials have cautioned tourism stakeholders in the region not to turn a blind eye to the spread of the Chikungunya virus.

Though not usually fatal, the disease has become a major source of concern, said Dr. James Hospedales, executive director of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency.

“...we have been working with CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization) on some of the communications messages, because you have to be truthful and honest in informing the population, but on the other hand you can’t cause alarm and panic,” Dr. Hospedales said.

Carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the Chikungunya virus has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean since late 2013. Dozens of cases have been reported across the region and health officials are predicting accelerated transmission as the hurricane season begins.

Hospedales said no part of the region has been spared.

COMMENT: “Chikungunya is a new virus to the region. It emerged in and as of last week, we have reports from 18 jurisdictions including all the language areas: English, French, Dutch and Spanish islands,” he said.

“The fact that the virus is spreading is an indication that our vector control and our mosquito control is not what it needs to be and that’s not only the responsibility of government and spraying, but it’s the responsibility of individual householders,” Hospedales said.

Chikungunya is not usually life-threatening, but causes severe headaches and joint pain, rash and fever. 

The Aedes aegypti mosquito also transmits dengue fever, which can be fatal.