Eleven of 13 results of samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing during 16th-24th September 2014, have come back positive for the chikungunya virus, officials learned Wednesday evening (1st October 2014).
“Eight had travel history to other Caribbean countries prior to becoming ill. Six had travelled to Jamaica, one to St Lucia and the other to Guyana, while three had no travel history, which means those were cases of local transmission” said Dr Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health.
Dr Kumar urged the public to take protective measures such as using mosquito repellents containing DEET on skin, and wearing long- sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks when outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, (Unlike most mosquitoes this occurs roughly between 7.00-9.00 a.m and 4.00-6.00 p.m.)
Chikungunya is a viral disease that is transmitted when the Aedes aegypti mosquito bites an infected person during the first week of illness. It causes fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Officials urge anyone who may be experiencing these symptoms to immediately see a healthcare provider.
Dr. Bill Petrie, Director of the Mosquito Research Control Unit, stated that eliminating breeding sites was key to combatting the disease.
“We encourage residents to clean-up their yards and remove or turn over any items that may hold water, such as buckets, and in this way eliminate potential breeding sites for this mosquito.” Dr Petrie commented.
He went on to say that MRCU has already stepped-up control operations, to include aerial spraying, which will continue in West Bay this afternoon; vehicle-mounted fogging and hand-held fogging; as well as continuing to inspect and treat yards and premises.
Health Minister, Hon. Osbourne Bodden, reassured the public that while officials had some concern regarding the transmission of chikungunya, the Public Health Department, and Mosquito Research and Control Unit were actively collaborating to ensure the containment.
The Minister echoed Dr Kumar, urging the public to protect themselves from mosquito bites and to assist MRCU by eliminating breeding sites in and around homes.
- Since the last update on 22 September 2014, 10 new cases were placed under investigation during the week of 23-29 September 2014.
- The eleven patients who tested positive (16-24) September are residents of George Town (4), West Bay (4),Bodden Town (2) and Cayman Brac (1).
- Their onset of symptoms took place between 16-22 September. Therefore the patients are no longer considered infectious, as it has been more than a week. The chikungunya virus is transmitted by mosquitoes biting infected persons during the first week of illness.
- Total number of cases investigated for chikungunya since 25 June 2014 is 56
- The total results received thus far are 48. Eighteen have come back positive, 28 negative and two inconclusive. Results of 8 blood samples are awaited.
- Distribution of all confirmed cases (18): George Town- seven; Cayman Brac – three; West Bay five and Savannah (Bodden Town) – three. Fourteen have reported a travel history to countries having an outbreak, (two to Dominican Republic, three to Guyana, eight to Jamaica), and one to St Lucia. Four had no travel history, an indication that the infection was acquired locally.
The first case of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands was reported at the end of June this year. Officials will meet tomorrow (Friday 3 October) to review control measures.
Minister Bodden promised that the Ministry of Health, the Public Health Department and MRCU will continue to update the public throughout this process.
As at 29th September, 12,720 confirmed/probable cases of chikungunya have been reported from 22- of the 24 CARPHA Member States and 11 other Caribbean countries/territories. Total suspected cases are 718,337.
Click here for a Chikungunya Fact Sheet. Regional updates can be accessed by visiting the CARPHA website. In addition United States updates are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.