Suspected Chikungunya cases surface in Essequibo

New suspected cases of Chikungunya have been reported in Aurora, Essequibo, where residents say three persons came down with symptoms of the virus two weeks ago.

Chikungunya, a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, was first locally detected in Berbice, where it continues to be prevalent. The Health Ministry has officially recorded 76 Chikungunya cases from approximately 250 samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago. However, Chief Medical Officer Shamdeo Persaud has stated that there were 580 suspected cases coming out of health centres across the country and some samples sent to CARPHA are still waiting to be tested.

A 27-year-old Aurora resident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Stabroek News that when she started experiencing the symptoms, she thought she had malaria and went straight to a hospital to do a malaria test. But the results returned negative. She noted that she began to get severe headaches and joint pains that lasted for six days.

Chikungunya virus: An electron cryomicroscopy reconstruction of the virus taken from the Electron Microscopy Data Bank.
Chikungunya virus: An electron cryomicroscopy reconstruction of the virus taken from the Electron Microscopy Data Bank.

“Then after six days these red spots started breaking out on my skin, all over my hands and foot,” she said. “I was worried that my children would get it because nobody ain’t coming and spray the area. All we hearing is that the ministry telling us what it is,” she said further.

The woman’s mother-in-law had also exhibited symptoms of having the virus and she was bed-ridden for some time. “My mother-in-law get it worse because she couldn’t even walk. The pain had her bad because she is an elderly woman plus the rashes start to break out on her skin too,” she explained.

She stated that she heard people talking about the virus in Essequibo but never thought that her household would contract it. “I just don’t want to think about my children getting it because if it is painful for us then it would be worse for them because they young,” she added.

Stabroek News also spoke to a man who stated that his wife appeared to be infected with the virus two weeks ago. He indicated that health officials were doing nothing in their area to reduce the number of mosquitoes while people were trying to keep their surroundings clean. “We are doing our part so why they are not fogging area?” he said, while adding that there has been an increase in mosquitoes.

While the virus remains pronounced in Berbice and Georgetown, there have also been reports of cases in Region Ten.

Stabroek News was told that scores of people were visiting the Georgetown Public Hospital Emergency Unit and its Out Patient Department for treatment after coming down with clinical symptoms. The Industry Health Centre had also referred over 100 suspected cases to the hospital after patients from Liliendaal, Industry and Ogle and Cummings Lodge started exhibiting clinical signs of the virus. All of them complained of joint pains and high fever followed by rashes.

Some symptoms of the virus are sudden high fever, joint pains, muscle pains, skin rash and headaches. And while there is no specific treatment for chikungunya, medicines are available to treat the symptoms.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is identified by white markings on the legs and a pattern of a lyre on the thorax. It is usually seen throughout the day and night even though it bites mostly at dusk and dawn.

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