Stop the spread
By CAROL MATROO Tuesday, July 15 2014
ONCE diagnosed with the painful Chikungunya virus persons should make every effort to sleep under mosquito nets or use insect repellent to prevent mosquitoes accessing their infected blood as a means of stopping the spread of this disease which has swept across the Caribbean islands.
Senior technical officer for vector-borne diseases at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, said tests for the disease which has very similar symptoms to that of dengue fever are only being done at CARPHA.
“There are other tests out there — the rapid test or commercial test,” Polson-Edwards said yesterday, “but at the moment most of them have not been validated or evaluated, so the best test is what is being done at CARPHA.”
Polson-Edwards explained, “The test is the molecular method (PCR-Polymerase chain reaction). The blood is taken during a certain time frame between the time the person has the symptoms, and the time the blood is taken should not be more than five days for this particular test.”
The incubation period for Chikungunya is three to seven days — about the same time as dengue.
Polson-Edwards said that at clinical centres doctors would see persons coming in with the similar symptoms such headaches, pains, fever. What distinguishes Chikungunya from dengue is that persons tended to have a lot more joint pains, like arthritic type pains. She said the pain could be so severe that some persons could not walk or could barely move their hands. These pains could last for months.
“If diagnosed, depending on the severity of the symptoms, some people may have to be hospitalised or some can be seen by a doctor and sent home. It is not that they are quarantined, but you advocate that the person sleep under a mosquito net to prevent access to mosquitoes, to prevent mosquitoes from biting them and picking up the virus, thereby spreading the virus to someone else,” she said.
Polson-Edwards said there was no specific treatment and while persons would be treated for the pain, that treatment should not include any aspirin since aspirin is a blood thinner and could cause haemorrhaging.
She said the vector control authorities would normally do their work around the area checking for mosquito breeding. They would also fog these areas. People could also assist by ensuring that they did not encourage the breeding of the mosquito.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said since three cases of Chikingunya in Trinidad have been confirmed, surveillance systems have been put in place at ports of entry where all people coming into the country would be observed for possible symptoms. Airlines have also been placed on the alert.
The confirmed cases had entered Trinidad from Bequia and the Dominican Republic. Over the weekend the Health Ministry launched a nationwide clean-up campaign in whch citizens were urged to clean up their surroundings to help eradicate the aedes egypti mosquito and its breeeding places.
“We cannot prevent the virus from entering the country,” the minister said. “If they come, they come. At the end of the day we are telling people to clean their surroundings to decrease the breeding grounds of the mosquito. Take care of your surroundings and peep and see if your neighbours’ surroundings and drains are clean. Flowing water is the worst thing for that mosquito to breed. If you attack chikungunya...you attack dengue. Prevention is better than cure at this time,” Khan said.