The mosquito-borne chikungunya virus has made its way to other parts of the country with seven of the 12 newly confirmed cases coming from Regions 3, 4, 5 and the city.
Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran in an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday said there were three cases from West Berbice: Bath Settlement, Bush Lot, and Number 9 Village, one each from Mahaicony and Ithaca, one from North Ruimveldt and one from Crane, West Coast Demerara, Region Three.
The Minister said that on July 1 upon receiving the results of samples that were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad it was confirmed that the disease has spread.
The 12 more cases of the disease have brought the total number to 31 thus far, GINA said.
Ramsaran said it is unknown whether these individuals contracted the disease in Berbice where it first originated.
Prior to these new cases, there were 19 confirmed cases, all originating from the Canje, Berbice area, in Region Six. GINA said that in late May Guyana recorded it first cases, a toddler and a woman in her forties, both from the Canje area.
GINA said the ministry’s vector control services immediately got into action and began conducting extensive fogging and spraying in the region.
Ramsaran said that due to the increase in the number of cases, heightened control methods will be put in place. He stressed that members of the public have to keep their surroundings clean to avoid mosquitoes breeding.
He noted that mosquitoes do not only breed in dirty water, but also fairly fresh and clean water. He said further public health measures are still ongoing across the City to eliminate adult mosquitoes.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: “The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain.
Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean.
The disease was first reported in the Caribbean in December 2013, and has since touched Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Maarten, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands.
Members of the opposition have criticized the government over the handling of the chikungunya threat. Last month APNU parliamentarians Dr. Karen Cummings and Dr. George Norton both sounded concern over the growing number of cases in Guyana.
Cummings said that she is concerned that the problem is raising from endemic to epidemic even as health officials have said that it is under control. “
Norton said, “I am a little worried when the authorities are saying that ‘we have it under control’ but they are concentrated on fogging only in the Berbice area. I hope they are not waiting for it to reach Georgetown before they start fogging in Georgetown and in other areas.”
Leader of the coalition David Granger also echoed similar sentiments. “Guyana has a serious problem with vector borne diseases in general and many of these diseases are spreading because of poor public health practices, poor sanitation,” he said.