Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson (right), makes a point at a press briefing held at the Ministry of Health downtown Kingston offices on August 7, to give an update on the chikungunya disease. Seated beside the minister are Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services, Ministry of Health, Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse (centre), and Representative, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr Tara lee Malcolm. JIS Photo
By Latonya Linton
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- The ministry of health confirmed on Thursday two additional cases of the chikungunya virus in Jamaica.
This was revealed by minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, during a press briefing held at the Ministry’s downtown Kingston offices.
He said that the two new cases were from local transmission, as the persons involved had no history travelling outside of Jamaica.
“The samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, which informed us of the positive results on August 5,” Ferguson said.
The two additional cases bring to four the number of persons who have been confirmed as having chikungunya.
“The affected parishes include St Thomas, St Catherine, Kingston and St Andrew,” the minister noted.
On July 17, 2014, Jamaica confirmed its first imported case, and the second on July 28.
Ferguson said that, since the confirmation of local transmission, the ministry has implemented intense vector control activities, including fogging of the surrounding areas and communities in which the affected persons reside, in three-day cycles each week.
“This will continue for a period of three weeks. Fever surveillance and contact investigation is still taking place. We have also increased the capacity of the vector control teams across the island by providing additional equipment and supplies,” he noted.
In addition, Ferguson said the ministry’s public health team has put in place vector control measures at the commercial offices of one of the affected persons. Also, health educators have been conducting education sessions and distributing material in the affected communities.
Meanwhile, the health minister said with the start of the school year not very far away, this may present additional challenges with large school populations at risk from possible infected mosquitoes.
“We will instruct Parish Health Departments to work closely with school administrators to carry out the necessary vector control and public education activities to minimize the risk of exposure to the youth population,” Ferguson said.
The chikungunya virus is only transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. 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.
Symptoms of chikungunya include high fever, headache, and 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.
Anyone who experiences any of the symptoms of chikungunya is asked to visit their doctor or the nearest health centre immediately.