Date: Fri 17 Feb 2014
Source: Dominica News [edited]
An expert brought to Dominica in light of a local outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya is warning of a pandemic if the disease is not brought under control quickly. "If it doesn't get under control, it is going to be another pandemic, and it is going to be worse than dengue," Yale University entomologist Dr. Durland Fish told Kairi FM's Healthy Environs, Health People.
According to the World Health Organization, a pandemic is the
"worldwide spread of a new disease."
"We need to have emergency measures to try to bring this epidemic under control, and we have only a week or 2 to do that," Fish said. "If we cannot contain this in 2 weeks, we are going to wind up like Martinique and Guadeloupe" [which it did - ProMed Mod.TY].
Officials say there has been a total of 13 confirmed cases of the disease in Dominica. They say it was confined to Bath Estate and Woodfordhill, but Chief Environmental Health Officer Anthony Scotland said it is spreading across the island.
"The disease is spreading to several communities," he told the same program on Kairi FM. "It has moved out of the major areas of Woodfordhill and Bath Estate. We have seen it in Scotts Head, Soufriere and Grandbay and a couple in Marigot." Scotland said there are reported cases in Kingshill, Goodwill, Roseau Central, Mahaut and Massacre. He described Bath Estate as the epicenter of the disease and said there have been some severe cases in a small section of Woodfordhill called Small Farm. "We moved into Bath Estate," he said. "We did a lot of work on the ground, working with the patients and the contacts and wider environment to see how we can stem the flow of that disease."
Meanwhile, the Public Health Agency of Canada has issued a travel notice to Canadians traveling to several Caribbean islands, including Dominica. "There have been confirmed cases of chikungunya on the Caribbean islands of Saint Martin/St. Maarten, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Barthelemy and the British Virgin Islands. These cases mark the 1st time that locally acquired transmission of chikungunya has been detected in the Region of the Americas," the agency said in the travel notice. The agency recommend that travellers to the islands take precautions, such as protecting themselves from mosquito bites, particularly during peak mosquito biting times in the early morning and late afternoon.
Chikungunya is a viral disease, carried mainly by the _Aedes aegypti_ mosquito, and causes a dengue-like sickness. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya virus infections than with dengue viruses. Persons who have these symptoms are advised to report to the nearest health centre or their personal health care provider.
The type of mosquito that transmits chikungunya virus is also known to transmit dengue fever virus.
Superior Health Council
[Cases of chikungunya virus infection in the Caribbean islands continue to accumulate. However, only Martinique appears to have significantly increasing incidence, and the other localities have stable or decreasing weekly numbers. No transmission on the mainland has been reported, although the risk remains.
[Re: "symptoms which can be considered to be lifelong symptoms" is a bit of an exaggeration, although some unfortunate victims may have chronic joint pains persisting for months. - ProMed Mod.JW]