Suggestions that the vector-borne disease chikungunya may not be transmitted by mosquitoes have been deemed untrue by the Ministry of Health.
Environmental Health Officer Charletta Charles told media that many individuals have been questioning how the disease is spread and even suggesting that it may not be due to the aedes aegypti mosquito because of the spike in cases and severity of symptoms.
Charles said however, that scientific testing has proven that the disease is indeed caused by the vector.
“We’ve been hearing that a lot but we need to be persistent. The research has been done. The studies have been done both in St. Lucia and out of St. Lucia and it’s a fact we get this disease from a mosquito. I think it’s because the cases have been climbing so quickly that people cannot believe [and are asking] ‘a mosquito did that?’ They are surprised. So they want to attribute that to something else, but the fact is it’s a mosquito and we’re just trying to be persistent,” she stated.
Health officials in Dominica had recently said that they are faced with a similar battle in the fight against chikungunya due to some of the population being unwilling to accept that the disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
These individuals have been unwilling to take certain steps to rid the environment of potential mosquito-breeding grounds. Over 2,000 people have been infected with the disease in Dominica.
St. Lucia’s first chikungunya case was confirmed in April.
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.