The number of cases of chikungunya in Barbados has risen in recent weeks, with 11 now confirmed while 77 other people are suspected of having the virus.
That is according to Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Karen Springer who disclosed that of the 11 confirmed cases, three were imported cases – that is, the patients arrived in Barbados already infected – while the other eight contracted the virus locally.
And Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Kenneth George is warning that especially now during the rainy season, Barbadians have to exercise personal responsibility and do all in their power to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.
“The same approach we have recommended to deal with dengue fever applies to chikungunya. The mosquito life cycle can only be completed in water so we must get rid of all stagnant water sources. Wear protective clothing, preferably light coloured and long sleeved, use mosquito repellant and sleep under bed nets, especially if you are travelling to countries that are endemic,” he said.
George added that the Environmental Health Department within the ministry was very vigilant in targeting the most vulnerable areas.
“We try to put our resources in the areas where we have the most reports of either confirmed or suspected cases,” George said, adding that the fogging campaign played a very important role in reducing the mosquito population since the fog kills the adult mosquito.
Springer explained that once a case of chikungunya is suspected, blood samples are submitted to the Leptospirosis Laboratory to be tested initially for dengue. Only if this test is negative, are the samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency Laboratory in Trinidad to be tested for chikungunya. Results are received within seven to 10 days.