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Monday, June 16, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 13th JUNE, 2014
Beat that bug!
Health Minister Fuad Khan has urged
T&T communities to maintain vigilence to
eradicate mosquitoes and ensure the mos-
quito-borne chikungunya virus---now in 20
Caribbean islands and some US states---
doesn t surface here.
Noting that T&T is among a few regional
territories that is free of the painful virus,
Khan said: "We can t afford to be compla-
cent. Ensuring your surroundings don t har-
bour stagnant water and mosquitoes is key."
Khan was commenting on news reports
over the weekend that the viral illness has
surfaced across the United States "carried
by recent travelers to the Caribbean where
it was reported that the virus is raging".
Atlanta s Centre for Disease Control (CDC)
is advising US travelers to the Caribbean
protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The warning was issued at the start of the
summer vacation period when travel to the
The virus is transmitted by Aedes Egypti
mosquitoes who may bite infected persons.
There is no vaccine. While the virus does
not typically lead to death, conditions can
Symptoms can become emphasized and
dangerous for adults over 65, newborns and
individuals who already have health issues
like diabetes, heart disease or high blood
Most common symptoms are fever and
joint pain as well as headache, muscle pain,
joint swelling, or rash. Joint pain can take
up to a few months or longer for full recov-
ery.The Caribbean Public Health Agency
(Carpha) last week reported that the number
of confirmed and suspected cases rose to
135,651, up from just over 100,000 on June
2. The virus has been detected in 20
Caribbean countries and territories, with
the largest outbreak in the Dominican
Carpha said travelers to the following
Caribbean islands are at risk of getting
chikungunya: Anguilla, Antigua, British Vir-
gin Island, Dominica, Dominican Republic,
French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti,
Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy,
Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, St Martin, St Vin-
cent and the Grenadines, St Maarten (Dutch)
The Dominican Republic has had more
than 77,000 suspected cases since January,
including 20,000 new suspected cases in
the last week.
Confirmed cases were reported in North
Carolina, Nebraska and Indiana last week.
Florida with 25 cases has the majority in
the US, according to the CDC.
Khan said his Ministry has been working
over the last eight months with other local
The mosquito that carries the chikungunya
virus can bite during the day and night, both
indoors and outdoors. It often lives around
buildings in urban areas.
Symptoms surface within three to seven days
after a bite from an infected mosquito and
typically dissipate within a week.
The following precautions should be taken
against the virus:
Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved
shirts, long pants, and hats.
Use an appropriate insect repellent as
Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned
Use a bed net if the area where you are
sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
Executive Director at the Caribbean Public
Health Agency (Carpha) Dr James Hospedales
believes the Caribbean is prepared to manage
Dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus.
He told a recent symposium hosted by Carpha
and the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Net-
work (CKLN) that several measures are in place
to prevent and control the Chikungunya virus,
including providing laboratory diagnosis and
regional co-ordination through an incident man-
agement team and a regional education awareness
At the symposium, more than 40 participants
shared resources and data and explored more
effective ways of combatting vector-borne diseases.
Using the region s dedicated research and education
network, C@ribNET, clinicians, researchers and
healthcare practitioners were able to share their
experiences on tackling and managing the two
Participants were also told how dedicated
research and education networks could support
and facilitate collaborative work of medical, research
and health-related groups and communities.
Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, PAHO/WHO
representative for T&T, called for research and
policy to be translated into action through the
sharing of information across all sectors.
bodies to keep on top of the situation:
"The reason T&T hasn t gotten Chikungunya yet
is because a lot of work is being done by agencies,
including the Insect Vector Unit and others, to try
to control mosquito spread.
"T&T can stay free of this if we keep doing the
right things...Use insect repellant or citronella oil.
Check water storage units or your plants daily. If
necessary, call the Insect Vector Control Unit and
they ll come and spray," he added.
Travelers to Africa, Asia, and islands in the Indian
Ocean and Western Pacific are also at risk as the
virus is present in many of these areas.
Members of the Syrian community celebrate the June 3 election of Bashar al-Assad as president of Syria at the Bayshore residence of
Marwan Yousef, Honorary Consul of the Syrian Arabic Republic. Bashar al-Assad was re-elected in the country's first presidential vote
since its civil war broke out three years ago. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
More Chikungunya cases in region
US issues virus travel alert
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