National Epidemiologist Neham Jn Baptiste said the number of chikungunya cases on island are slowly increasing.
In providing the latest figures on the status of the mosquito-transmitted virus, Jn Baptiste said today (May 26) that chikungunya cases have climbed to 20, with 120 suspected cases. Twelve confirmed cases were reported on May 14.
The situation on the ground is believed to be much worse than the figures presented as according to information from the Ministry of Health, some persons with chikungunya have opted to use home remedies like bush medicine, rather than reporting their condition to a doctor or health clinic.
The national epidemiologist noted that it is very important to know which areas are affected so as to provide strategic environmental control.
While the virus is more prevalent among women, Jn Baptiste said that pregnant women especially must be protected from contracting the virus. He said the virus could be much more harmful to this group.
The health official also noted that the virus must be controlled by all means, at the risk of it affecting the productive sector on island.
As the rainy season is slowly approaching, Jn Baptiste cautioned that there is also a higher risk of people contracting dengue, a deadlier mosquito-borne disease. The circulation of chikungunya and dengue at the same time could pose as a major public health threat.
The most affected areas with chikungunya include Castries, Vieux Fort, Gros Islet, Bexon, Babonneau and Anse La Raye. Several Caribbean islands are struggling to contain the virus from spreading. It has been declared an epidemic in the Eastern Caribbean.
Chikungunya causes severe joint pain, fever and body rash.