Chikungunya now in almost all communities in St. Lucia – official

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Chikungunya now in almost all communities in St. Lucia – official
chikungunya,
 The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported that there are about 165,990 suspected cases of chikungunya in the Caribbean.

Almost all communities in Saint Lucia have been affected by the vector-borne disease chikungunya, according to Surveillance Officer within the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Michelle Francois.

Though not stating the specific number of individuals who are confirmed to have contracted the virus in St. Lucia, Francois said there are many more cases on the ground than those that have reached the hospitals.

She said the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has mandated the ministry to only test persons presenting chikungunya symptoms who have been hospitalised, pregnant and or very sick.

“What we normally rely on is the trends of undifferentiated fever – that is, persons who present with just fever. We have seen these increasing throughout the island. So although we are not testing everyone …the confirmed numbers that we are seeing will always be less than what is on the ground,” she said.

Francois said the ministry anticipated the spike in the spread of chikungunya simply because the local population does not have immunity to the virus.

“So the mere fact that the public did not have immunity we did expect the numbers to rise as more and more people get exposed to the virus and with our high indices of mosquitos,” she said.

According to her, unlike dengue, chikungunya can only be contracted by an individual once, since it confirms lifelong immunity.

Francois said the ministry had been trying to keep the spread under control through various measures. There have been public awareness programmes, which include school and community outreach, and others avenues.

Moreover, Francois said that though there are signs of progress with regard to the public’s receptiveness to fighting the disease, there is still room for improvement.

“We have seen signs [but] progress has been a bit slow I would admit,” she said.

A number of persons have been coming forward to request that the ministry conduct training sessions at local workplaces. Some communities have also reached out for help in organising clean-up programmes, while others are very receptive about finding out how to control mosquito population.

In spite of all this, the surveillance officer said that personal responsibility is key to fighting chikungunya.

“We would like the public to know that it really begins with the individual. We can only maintain the community outreach and the clean-up campaigns for only so long but if each individual plays their part… there really would be no need for us to move masses in that manner. So it all begins with the individual and knowing that it is your responsibility to protect yourself and family,” she said.

Francois is concerned that with the onset of the hurricane season there will be an increase in the mosquito population which will in turn lead to a rise in vector-borne diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and even leptospirosis.

This week is being observed as Vector Week for which a number of activities have been already convened and planned.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported recently that there are about 165,990 suspected cases of chikungunya in the Caribbean.

The organisation’s June 2014 report noted that the Dominican Republic had a total of 77,320 suspected cases followed by Guadeloupe with 35,000 and Martinique with 35,000.

Chikungunya is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which also spreads dengue fever – a disease with similar symptoms.

People suffering with chikungunya will mainly feel chronic pain in the joints, and although it will not require being admitted to a hospital, there will be prolonged pain or swelling in the joints.

Symptoms of chikungunya appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalisation are rare.

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  1. Please Read if you have the time. Just wanted to share some Key facts World Health Organisation (WHO)

    Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
    The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

    There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

    The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.
    Since 2004, chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions, with considerable morbidity and suffering.

    The disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In recent decades mosquito vectors of chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in a localized outbreak in north-eastern Italy.

    Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne viral disease first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. It is an RNA virus that belongs to the alphavirus genus of the family Togaviridae. The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning "to become contorted" and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).

    Signs and symptoms

    Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever frequently accompanied by joint pain. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days or may be prolonged to weeks.

    Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints. Serious complications are not common, but in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death. Often symptoms in infected individuals are mild and the infection may go unrecognized, or be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue occurs.

    Transmission
    Chikungunya has been identified in nearly 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and also in the Americas.

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  2. ALVINA RENOLDS SUCKS AS MIN OF HEALTH I AM NOT SAYING THAT SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE EPIDEMIC BUT SHE MADE ST LUCIANS BELEIVE EVERYTHING WAS UNDER CONTROL WHEN IT WAS CLEARLY NOT.....ALVINA WHY IS THERE 1DOC ON THE NIGHT SHIFT AT VICTORIA......ALIVA WHY YAL WANT TO SEND NURSES HOME WHEN YOU DONOT HAVE ENOUGH....ALVINA I DONT KNOW WHAT KENNY WAS THINKING WHEN HE GAVE YOU THIS POST....YOU NEED TO RESIGN OR KENNY NEED TO CHANGE YOUR POSITION.

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  3. i wish news otletsw ould really look into the information they broadcast and not jus copy the crap that "leaders" shove down their throats.

    there are 3 vectors to this epidemic - mosquito - people - fowl

    this is a strain of "bird-flu" going around -

    PEOPLE: PLEASE EAT HEALTHIER / EXERCISE / LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR - BE GOOD

    ONE LOVE

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