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First Chikungunya Case Confirmed

As a regional outbreak persists, public health officials have confirmed the first local case of imported chikungunya illness by a returning resident.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said the patient, who was treated and released from the Cayman Islands Hospital last week, is no longer infectious. He also confirmed that there is no evidence of local transmission of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands.

“Chikungunya is not directly transmitted from person to person, but a mosquito biting a person with Chikungunya fever can spread the virus to another person. Hence persons, who develop symptoms within two weeks of having returned from countries with Chikungunya cases, are considered imported,” Dr. Kumar explained.

“While we need to be alert, and take preventative measures, we need not be alarmed of one case. For Aedes mosquitoes to transmit Chikungunya they must bite infected persons, who then become infectious and transmit the disease,” he emphasized.

“Hence, persons who develop Chikungunya symptoms within two weeks of having returned from countries with Chikungunya cases are advised to consult their physician and inform of their travel history,” added Dr. Kumar.

So far this year, 25 Caribbean countries have reported over 4,970 confirmed Chikungunya cases as at today.

The MRCU Director, Dr. William Petrie has confirmed that his department continues to monitor the situation, and reminds the public that they can help reduce the Aedes aegypti population locally, by clearing yards of containers that can hold water, as these are favourite breeding sites.

Minister of Health, Hon. Osbourne Bodden, said the Health Services Authority, the Public Health Department and the MRCU had taken proactive measures to combat the disease.

The Health Ministry also offered its full support to the agencies to ensure the early detection and management of any imported Chikungunya cases, in order to curtail local transmission.

For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

For further information on Chikungunya, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 or 244-2632.

Side Bar:

The Caribbean countries reporting Chikungunya:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominica Republic, French Guyana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Barthelemy, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Sint Maarten, St Martin, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands , US Virgin Islands and Venezuela

Key Facts on Chikungunya:

• Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

• The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

• There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

• The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for Chikungunya.

• Since 2004, Chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions globally, with considerable morbidity and suffering.

• The disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In recent decades mosquito vectors of Chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in a localized outbreak in north-eastern Italy.