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Chik V and Ebola Preparedness

Public Health and border control agencies will meet soon to cement a best practice approach to ensuring the containment measures against Ebola virus at ports and airports.

Also on the agenda will be a discussion of pro-active, preventative and protective public health measures, following a recent global advisory on Ebola, although that disease is unlikely to prove a threat to the Cayman Islands.

A wider group of medical officials and stakeholders met for the second time on Wednesday, 13 August at the Cayman Islands Hospital, for a general update on issues relating to the two diseases.

More than 20 stakeholders were present, including staff from the Ministries of Health and Home Affairs, Health Services Authority, Mosquito Research and Control Unit, Department of Environmental Health, Customs, Department of Tourism, the Airports Authority, Hazard Management Cayman Islands,Immigration and Government Information Services.

Discussions focused on steps taken since the last meeting—including identifying sources of standing water in communities, informing the public, educating customs and immigrations staff, hospital protocols and procedures, inter-agency communication and other areas.

As of 11 August, there were a total of five confirmed cases of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands—with no new cases reported since mid-July and only one locally transmitted case to date.Officials confirmed that suspicious cases are still being routinely tested.

To ensure the continued containment of the disease, Health Minister Hon. Osbourne Bodden stressed the importance to the public, of removing anything that might hold standing water from around their properties, as well as wearing protective clothing and mosquito repellent.

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, similar to dengue. Symptoms include fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kiran Kumar, issued an advisory on Ebola (previously known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever),on 1 August 2014, following international concern over an ongoing outbreak in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The disease is a rare but serious viral infection that affects animals such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees and spills over to human population. As the transmission is through blood and body fluids, prevention is by protecting against such exposures and maintaining personal hygiene through sanitization and hand washing.

Officials emphasize the importance of public education and preventative measures for both chikungunya and Ebola.

As such Public Health remains committed to keeping the public informed and will continue to issue weekly updates on chikungunya until the outbreak is determined to be at an end.

Offering his support and commending the team for their proactive preparedness Minister Bodden said, “I am relieved to know that protocols are in place to treat and handle any infected persons.” He added, “Should any person appear ill, I encourage all front line customer service staff to be vigilant and ask pertinent questions in a diplomatic way.”

To determine if the country you are travelling has chikungunya or Ebola, please contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648. Travellers to such countries are advised to consult a physician should they develop symptoms during their travels or on return.