Screen_Shot_2014-10-22_at_8.02.57_PMHealth officials had said no cases of Chikungunya had been detected in Belize but that it was inevitable and it seems infections have begun to appear. At least three suspected cases are being monitored by health officials since Sunday. The news was first broke by Plus TV in Belmopan, where it appears the cases are being detected. Chief of Operation of Vector Control in the Ministry of Health, Kim Bautista, confirmed the information in an interview with our colleagues at Channel Seven.


Kim Bautista - Chief of Operation of Vector Control


“Right now we have four person under suspicion I would say, initially we had a 65 year old individual who is from Salvadorian national with family in Las Flores she was diagnose back in August with Chickengunya in El Salvador and she came late September back home but as you with Chikengunya you get that persistent joint pain even after you have gotten over the fever isle phase of the disease and even pass through the infectious stage and that tend to stay with you for some tie weeks or months after you’ve had the disease so she was the first individual who approached Western Region and explain to us look I was diagnose in El Salvador ad I am still having this pain I need some treatment and so what we did with her, we took her blood and we have sent that sample to CARFA and we are awaiting the results of her test, then on Sunday we had an individual who had visited a private lab in Belmopan and that individual she haven’t travelled anywhere out of Belize, she tested positive with a rapid test, which is a rapid test who a particular individual is promoting country wide, when that was reported to us what we did was to take a blood sample and we have it at the central lab in Belize and we are going to be running a test on that and that sample sits overnight and I think it goes through a process that goes over 24 hours before you get back confirmation, so we are expecting shortly her results and we are also going to be sending her sample and a relative sample who tested negative with the same private lab but she had dengue lie symptoms so we decided we will take both samples of you and we will get confirmation on that for you and we are also arranging not only with those two blood samples locally but we also want to send them to CARFA as well just to make sure I guess they will run the TCR which is the best confirmation you could get.”


Bautista says that during the course of the day today, another person from Las Flores Peten in Guatemala, who recently came to the country, told health care providers that she had been under quarantine in El Salvador. The woman told officers she had tested positive there and officers are monitoring this case as well. Bautista says that confirmation may be available by tomorrow. Bautista also spoke on measures that could be taken to help control the spread of infections.

 

Kim Bautista - Chief of Operation of Vector Control


“What we have right now and just to conclude in terms of the Salvador link for the Belmopan area specifically there is weekly transport back and forth that leaves from the bus terminal area to El Salvador so what we need to do is to target these transport companies to ensure that we are issuing out he right pamphlets and flyers to educate the people, but in terms of protecting yourself  we need to go back to the basics in ensuring that yes we have the ministry of health on the ground pumping insecticide, distributing bed nets, having personnel on the ground inspecting and treating breeding sites but there is never enough man power on the ground in terms of the big areas that we have to address and that is why the public has a role to play in ensuring that one that they report suspected fever cases, dengue like cases and also to ensure that they maintain their premises free of breeding sites as I would say.”


The Ministry of Health is now looking at specific areas including Las Flores, San Martin and Salvapan which have a high number of immigrants and naturalized Belizeans who have ties in Guatemala and El Salvador. In San Pedro Village, a high number of the workforce comes from these countries as well. The ministry is also increasing its surveillance for the disease starting at these areas. Given the latest news, health authorities encourage the public to seek medical attention in case of symptoms appearing and to do their part in minimizing their risks.


Kim Bautista - Chief of Operation of Vector Control


“Chikungunya is describe as dengue with severe arthritis, the tale tell sign is that swollen tender joint pain that persist, so you have your typical dengue like symptoms; your fever, pain and headache right behind your eyes but combined with that you also have the severe joint pain like arthritis and so if you are experiencing thee symptoms it is not to stay at home and self-medicate or to run to the private sector for a rapid test but we need to ensure that we are capturing this information and so I would advise the public if you have these symptoms visit our health facilities and we have our personnel that have been trained in terms of the identification and the management of Chikungunya disease and we have capacity to run the test and the means to get confirmation and that test for you so in terms of the surveillance and keeping the public assured that we are doing the ground work and we need them to also do their part not only in terms of preventing mosquitos but also reporting if they suspect that they have travelled to these areas and display these symptoms of dengue or Chikungunya.”


According to information put out by the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus.

 

Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.” The symptoms include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Chik-V was first found in the Caribbean in late 2013 and there are no vaccines to prevent the viral disease. Likewise, there is no medication to treat the Chikungunya infection.

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