May 7, 2014, 11:13 a.m.
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – HEAD of the Caribbean Public Health Authority (CARPHA) Dr. James Hospedales has stated that the Chikungunya virus has reached epidemic levels in the Caribbean region.
“By definition, this is an epidemic since it represents an unusual number of cases of this problem where we would never have it before,” Dr. Hospedales told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Caribbean360.com states that the mosquito-borne illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St Martin, and last week Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the latest countries to declare an outbreak.
According to Dr. Hospedales, as of April 28 there were 4 108 probable cases in 14 countries throughout the region.
He however noted that currently the main focus is on surveillance to help stave off any potential Chikungunya virus outbreak. (HTS Channel 4)
He also stated that Caribbean countries have been putting measures in place to address the spread of the virus.
“PAHO (the Pan American Health Organisation), since 2012, had done a preparatory briefing. In July of last year we convened a Caribbean-wide virtual meeting of the chief officers in the countries in the labs to highlight this emerging threat and to adjust our surveillance protocols and laboratory testing to have early detection.
“In December, once it came into the region, we established an incident management team, and that has regular contact with the countries, with PAHO, with the French and so on,” Hospedales said.
Hospedales added that there are steps that could be taken to contain the virus.
“Our main recommendations are to continue to educate members of the public on the current situation and get accurate information to avoid confusion.
“It is very important to inspect homes and communities to eliminate potential vector breeding sites for the Aedes Egypti mosquito,” he said.
He also advised that persons who are sick with fever and suspect they may be suffering from Dengue or Chikungunya should use an insect repellant and sleep under a mosquito net.