Chikungunya virus recorded in Antigua

ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – Less than 24 hours after St Vincent and the Grenadines confirmed an outbreak of the chikungunya virus, another Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is reporting its first case of the mosquito-borne disease.

Antigua and Barbuda health officials Friday held a news conference to confirm that an individual in his mid 60s had become the island’s first case.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Orita Zachariah told reporters that the case had been detected on April 22 and the victim between the ages 60 and 65 works in the capital, St John’s.

The health authorities say they are also awaiting results of four other suspected cases from the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

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 than with dengue.

The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalisation are rare.

Dr Zachariah said that persons should remain home if they suspect they have the disease while Chief health Inspector Lionel Michael said the Department of Health would increase vector control in a bid to prevent a spread of the disease.

In January, CARPHA said it had received notification of 10 confirmed cases of locally acquired chikungunya virus infection on the French side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. But since then Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have reported cases of the disease.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health in St Vincent and the Grenadines declared an outbreak of the virus after three cases were confirmed on the northern Grenadine island of Bequia.

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