By Joy Springer
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Minister of Health, John Boyce, confirmed on Wednesday that Barbados has recorded its first case of chikungunya, a virus similar to dengue and transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
The positive sample was among a batch of seven sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad for testing last week.
Since the first case of chikungunya was reported in the region in December last year, the ministry of health has sent 62 samples to CARPHA taken from patients who were showing symptoms related to the disease.
Minister of Health John Boyce
At a press briefing on Wednesday morning, Boyce described the positive sample as “an imported case” that occurred in an individual who arrived in Barbados on May 25 and has already returned to his/her homeland. While he declined to disclose the visitor’s country of origin, he said that the ministry of health here has been in contact with the ministry of health in that country.
Meanwhile, vector control measures were implemented last week based on the suspicion of chikungunya. Chief environmental health officer, Tyrone Applewhaite, explained that within 48 hours of a suspected case of chikungunya being reported, his unit moves in to contain the possibility of spread by fogging the premises and surrounding areas to eradicate mosquitoes, eggs and larvae.
Boyce said that in addition to fogging, other protective measures being undertaken by the ministry to prevent the spread of the disease include enhanced surveillance at the ports of entry; collection and analysis of data from public health care facilities; and health education.
He appealed to householders to assist government in its efforts by inspecting their premises weekly and eliminating all potential mosquito breeding places. Control measures include spraying inside homes with insect repellant and getting rid of buckets, tyres and coconut shells.
Using insect repellant on the skin and wearing light-coloured long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors are also recommended. The symptoms of chikungunya are similar to dengue fever and include a sudden high fever, headache, rash, nausea and muscle pain.
However, stiffness and severe joint pain, especially in the wrists, knuckles and ankles, are more often associated with chikungunya. There is no vaccine. Treatment is symptomatic and may include rest, fluids and medication for fever and pain. Aspirin, however, should be avoided.