Health officials continue to monitor diseases

| 19/08/2014

(CNS): With the continuing outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa and the regional spread of chikungunya virus medical officials and stakeholders met at the Cayman Islands hospital for the second time on Wednesday, 13 August, for a general update on issues relating to the two diseases. While Ebola poses considerably less of a threat the spread of chikungunya in the Caribbean is of concern locally but so far Cayman has contained its limited exposure to the disease. Since the first case in June just five cases have been confirmed and only one patient is suspected of contracting the disease locally.

According to the public health department 19 suspected cases have been investigated and bold samples sent for testing. Nine of those have been negative, one inconclusive and four results remain outstanding in addition to the five positive cases. Regionally there are some 7,894 cases of chikungunya with more than a half million suspected cases being reported. Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, similar to dengue. Symptomsinclude fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

Local health officials are remaining vigilant about the potential spread of the disease and following up on the recent meeting officials said public health experts will also be meeting with border control personnel to establish a best practice approach to ensuring the continued containment of the chikungunya virus at ports and airports. They will also discuss 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 with more than 190 nationalities living in Cayman and hundreds of thousands of visitors to our shores every day from air and sea monitoring the potential risks remains important.  

Medical Officer of Health, Dr Kiran Kumar, issued an advisory on Ebola at the beginning of August following international concern over the ongoing outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The disease is a rare but a serious viral infection that affects humans and animals such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees. 

Meanwhile, the containment of chikungunya has been assisted by the mosquito control measures and the public’s efforts to keep yards clear of standing water which is the breeding ground for the urban mosquito the Aedes aegypti which carries the disease. Health Minister, Osbourne Bodden stressed the importance of removing anything that might hold standing water from around their properties, as well as wearing protective clothing and mosquito repellent.

“I am relieved to know that protocols are in place to treat and handle any infected persons,” the minister said this week. “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 on return. For more information on both viruses, visit www.carpha.org or www.cdc.org
 

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  1. M says:

    Chikungunya can never match the deadly Ebola virus. Ebola starts with flu like symptoms and follow next is like what you see in a horror movie, constant vomiting, non-stop diarrhea, persperation, blood stop clotting, meaning blood oozing out of the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc…  Eventually person dies within the span of 10 days when this happens. It is a painful way to die –  a 10% chance of survival. The brave doctors and health care workers in these African countries are risking their lives everyday being in contact with Ebola patients. There is rumor that a person can not only get infected by physical contact, but the virus travels upon droplets in the air. Hence health care workers are masking and covering eyes. That means it is very infectuous beyond mere touch of bodily fluid.