The Ministry of Health has confirmed four new cases of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya in Saint Lucia.
This adds to the island’s sole case of the viral disease which was confirmed last month.
According to health officials, there are about 25 other suspected cases.
One of the recent victims of the disease is a female visitor who had travelled to the neighbouring French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. She has already left the island, officials said. All victims are said to be recovering well.
Chief Epidiomologist Nahum Jn Baptiste told media that the confirmed cases come from various parts of the island – spanning from Vieux Fort, Bonne Terre to Ti Colon.
He cautioned that there is potential for chikungunya to spread across the country unless residents guard against the breeding of the aedes egypti which transmits the virus.
Dengue fever, which is similar to chikungunya, is also another threat from the aedes egypti mosquito.
“We want to take the opportunity to really alert the public and sensitise the public about reducing the habitat of that of the aedes egypti mosquito because there is not really a cure [for chikungunya]. We can only treat the symptoms. It’s a viral disease and so it is totally up to the environmental management,” he said.
A 63-year-old fisherman of Anse La Raye was the first individual confirmed to have contracted the virus and has been treated and is fully recovered.
Following the announcement of that case in April, the Ministry of Health said it had intensified mosquito-control efforts to lessen the possibility of a chikungunya outbreak on the island.
The ministry now continues to strengthen its surveillance system . It will also continue to send samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for testing every week.
People suffering with the illness 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.