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Minister on Chikungunya

In the wake of the first confirmed case of Chikungunya in the Islands, Minister of Health, Hon Osbourne Bodden, has issued the following statement:

Yesterday we heard news of the first confirmed case of Chikungunya on our shores.

This is considered an imported case as the patient had travelled to another country where an outbreak of Chikungunya is occurring. Officials have found no evidence of local transmission of the disease.

In December 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified the first local transmission in the Western Hemisphere in St Martin. Twenty-five Caribbean countries have since reported cases of Chikungunya. As of 30 June 2014, nearly 5,000 confirmed cases were reported from these areas.

Transmission of the disease occurs through the Aedes aegypti mosquito- the same mosquito that transmits Dengue fever. Dengue has been in this hemisphere for a number of years and is not endemic to the Cayman Islands, as there is no sustained transmission of the disease.

We have five to seven cases of Dengue fever each year, although during the regional outbreak in 2012 to 2013 there were a total of 37 confirmed cases . No cases have been reported for the 13/14 season.

All this is because of the vigilance of the Public Health team, the measures of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU), and steps taken by the public.

I also want to assure you that our health care system is ready and able to treat anyone who should fall ill with the disease.

While MRCU will continue to do its part, we should all remain calm and follow their guidance in eliminating mosquito breeding sites around our homes and property. We must also protect ourselves from mosquito bites, which is the only way to prevent Chikungunya.

Protective measures include using mosquito repellents on skin and clothes. When outdoors, during times that mosquitoes are biting, persons should also wear long- sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for expediting testing within five hours of receiving the recent sample, as well as to PAHO for their technical support and commitment.

Thanks also to the Public Health Department for their surveillance and guidance on dealing with this threat.

A weekly update will be provided as we aim to keep the situation transparent and keep you informed.