Several new cases of chikungunya have surfaced with at least five of them being confirmed and 31 suspected by the surveillance team of the Ministry of Health.
The new status of chikungunya locally came up during a consultation on vector diseases among health officials and stakeholders held at the National Mental Wellness Centre in Castries today, May 13. Discussions on chikungunya took centre stage, as stakeholders focused on ways to assist with reducing the spread of the virus.
Surveillance Officer Dr. Michelle Francois, who was one of the contributors to the discussions, told Saint Lucia News Online (SNO) that her team has detected additional cases of chikungunya and this number could rise before the week’s end.
“It is overwhelming and we have more and more cases coming in, so we are looking to partner with our major stakeholders to try to get it under control.” There is no one community that is affected, but cases of chikungunya are popping up throughout the island.
“We have realised that as a ministry we are unable to do it alone, so we are engaging our stakeholders to assist us wherever we may fall short in sensitizing the public and reaching the public and telling them about the disease and getting the situation under control,” Dr. Francois added.
Presentations were made on the virus and what agencies including the Environmental Health Department and the Bureau of Health are doing to tackle the issue.
Dr. Francois said a team of physicians were sent overseas for training in dealing with cases of chikungunya. Upon their return, the team conducted training sessions with other healthcare providers. Based on today’s consultation, the team of trained physicians will schedule meetings with members of the private sector and communities so as to educate them on the virus.
The Bureau of Health has also been meeting with schools and communities. The Environmental Health Department has been conducting fogging at various communities.
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, but these are rare.