Puerto Rico declares chikungunya epidemic

Puerto Rico declares chikungunya epidemic

The health officials in Puerto Rico declared an epidemic of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that has been confirmed in more than 200 cases across the island as of late last month.

Health Secretary Ana Rius said the majority of those cases were reported in the capital of San Juan and nearby areas.

The virus was introduced into the Caribbean region late last year and the first case in Puerto Rico was reported in late May.

Meanwhile, Jamaican health officials reported the nation’s first confirmed case on Thursday. Dr Kevin Harvey, chief medical officer for Jamaica, said chikungunya was found in someone who had recently travelled to a country where the virus has been transmitted locally.

As of July 11, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recorded more than 354,000 suspected and confirmed cases of chikungunya across the Caribbean.

The first locally-transmitted case in the Western Hemisphere was confirmed in December in the French Caribbean territory of St Martin.

Chikungunya symptoms take three to seven days to appear in those who have contracted it. The virus results in high fever for up to five days and a longer period of severe joint pain in the extremities that renders patients largely immobile.

Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Younger patients usually make a full recovery in 5 to 15 days. Older patients can take up to two months to regain full strength, and elderly patients even longer.

The virus is rarely fatal, according to health officials. There is no vaccine yet, so treatment largely consists of pain medication.

Source; caribbean news now

Chikungunya virus infects 12 more in Guyana


Guyana is reporting at least 12 more cases of a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe joint pain and fever for many of its victims.

Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran says the Caribbean Public Health Agency confirmed the new cases of chikungunya among 130 blood samples sent from the South American country.

The minister said late Wednesday that the infections occurred near the border with Suriname and about 32 kilometres from where the first two cases were documented last week.

The government is spraying pesticides to control the two species of mosquitoes that spread the virus.

The Pan American Health Organization reports more than 100,000 cases of chikungunya since the first locally transmitted case on the generally non-fatal virus in the Caribbean in French St. Martin in December.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested local public health departments perform surveillance for chikungunya cases in returning travellers and be aware of the risk for possible local transmission in areas where Aedes species mosquitoes are active.

“Local transmission has been identified in 17 countries or territories in the Caribbean or South America (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Maarten),” the CDC’s weekly report on illness and death said.

“As of May 30, 2014, a total of 103,018 suspected and 4,406 laboratory-confirmed chikungunya cases had been reported from these areas.”

Source: cbc news

Caribbean: 1 In 5 Unaware Of TB Diagnosis, Says Health Organisation

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) says one in five people infected with tuberculosis in the Americas, including the Caribbean, remains unaware of the disease.

PAHO said this is due to “failure to access health services or because they are not properly diagnosed.” In 2012, PAHO said regional countries reported 220,000 cases of tuberculosis, and an estimated 19,000 people died from the disease.

But it said an additional 60,000 people are believed to have TB, who have not yet been diagnosed.

“This situation not only endangers their lives, it also facilitates further transmission of TB, producing more disease and generating socioeconomic costs for individuals, families and communities,” PAHO warned.

It issued the statement in commemoration of World TB Day that sought to raise awareness on the tuberculosis burden in the world, as well as the efforts made for its prevention and control.

Throughout the years, PAHO said this commemoration has offered the opportunity to mobilize the political, economic and social commitment for the prevention and control of TB in the countries.

For the 2014 campaign, PAHO said it will follow the worldwide focus on TB diagnosis and case detection of those still not reached, “with emphasis in the Americas on vulnerable populations, social determinants and large cities.”

Source; National news agency of Bernama