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Jamaica confirms first case of chikungunya
Published on July 18, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Stephanie Shaw Smith

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Chief Medical Officer Dr Kevin Harvey has confirmed that Jamaica now has its first imported case of chikungunya. This following the receipt of a report from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on Thursday confirming that a sample sent on Tuesday is indeed positive for the chikungunya virus. Harvey had previously explained that the case is of an individual who travelled from an affected country and fell ill.

“The ministry will continue with its heightened surveillance and will be taking steps to reduce the vector through its vector control programme. Individuals should ensure that they protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent containing DEET and covering their body as much as possible by wearing long sleeved clothing for example,” Harvey explained.

There is no specific treatment for the chikungunya virus nor is there a vaccine. Harvey says therefore that apart from protecting ourselves from mosquito bites we should also reduce the possibility of mosquito breeding.

“The Aedes aegypti is a day-biting mosquito that will almost always be found in and around areas where people live, work and play. The mosquito breeds in water that settles around homes, schools, churches, workplaces and playgrounds. Persons are urged to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites in and around their homes, workplaces and communities by getting rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle, punching holes in tins before disposing, and covering large drums, barrels and tanks holding water,” he urged.

Symptoms of chikungunya fever include high fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain mainly in the limbs and large joints and a rash. Although it does not often result in death, joint pains and stiffness can last for months and even years. It may become a source of chronic pain and disability resulting in the individual being unable to attend work or school.

Infants and the elderly are at greater risk for more severe disease. There are some diseases that may increase the risk for severe disease such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease.

Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of chikungunya is asked to visit their doctor or the nearest health centre immediately.

As of July 14, 2014, 28 countries and territories in the Caribbean and Latin American region have reported cases of chikungunya, with a total of 5,227 confirmed.
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