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Chickungunya Virus Detected In St. Martin, Virgin Islands On Alert

Chickungunya virus. Photo: www.nature.com
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Health officials are on alert for the Chickungunya virus, a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes, after ten confirmed cases have been reported in St. Martin.

“Chickungunya has never been confirmed in the Caribbean prior to these cases being reported. The Ministry is in the process of developing a plan to ensure that resources are in place to address this risk which are similar to those for Dengue Fever,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Irad Potter, told the Department of Information and Public Relations.

“Currently we are in alert mode as there are a total of 10 confirmed cases, four probable cases, and 20 suspected cases in St. Martin.  Right now we want persons to be vigilant with inspecting their premises for mosquito breeding sites, take active measures in keeping mosquitoes out of your homes and even wearing insect repellent,” Dr. Potter stated.

Chickungunya causes symptoms similar to dengue fever which last two to five days. Other symptoms include rash, arthritis affecting multiple joints, headaches, and conjunctival infection.

 According to Dr. Potter these symptoms can persist for weeks or months in some cases. He also stated that arrangements are being put in place to ensure that suspected cases can be tested for this new virus and that health care providers are updated on the treatment of Chickungunya

“If you have traveled to St. Martin within the past few days and experienced the following symptoms; fever of 102 degree Ferenheights or higher, headache, back pain, nausea, vomiting, polyarthritis, rash and or conjunctivitis promptly seek medical attention,” Dr. Potter cautioned.

The Environmental Health Division will increase surveillance and control measures and ports of entry however, residents are asked to remain vigilant in preventing mosquitoes from breeding in stagnant water around their homes and businesses.

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