Fears grow over spread of Chikungunya in Berbice

-two cases confirmed along East Coast

There are growing reports of the spread of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus in Berbice, while at least two cases have been confirmed at Liliendaal and Plaisance, both on the East Coast of Demerara

Although confirmed cases doubled in the last few weeks to 62, there are fears that the figure may be more than what is being reported.

A resident of Albion, Berbice yesterday told Stabroek News that hundreds of people were lining up at the hospital to be treated. She said people were travelling from Crabwood Creek and West Coast Berbice to visit the New Amsterdam Hospital.

She said people were so desperate to get treatment that they were spending their money on injections to relieve the pains. She indicated that doctors with private practices were charging people $5,000 to administer an injection that is believed to bring relief.

But their relief is short-lived because after a few hours, she said, the pains and fever return. She further stated that pharmacies were selling the injections for $3,000.

When it was put to her that the Health Ministry had warned civilians about being fooled that an injection could rid the virus, she admitted that she was unaware. “If the Ministry of Health told them not to, then they are ignoring the ministry,” she stated.

“These people were grasping at anything that could help them but it eventually wears off in a few hours,” the woman added.

Meanwhile, a resident of Prince William Street, Plaisance said her daughter had contracted the virus two weeks ago. “I’m shock that it hasn’t spread all over Guyana because of the condition of Guyana. I expected worse!” she said, adding that her daughter started experiencing pains first before developing a hot fever. “Then she started to get rashes and her joints were swollen,” she explained.

A teenage girl in Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara has been hospitalised for the last week.

Last night, a woman was cradling her three-year-old daughter in the Emergency Unit of the Georgetown Public Hospi-tal, praying that the toddler was not infected with the virus. She said three days ago the child started crying out for pains in her stomach and foot.

She said she was waiting on a doctor to tell her what was wrong with the child. “This thing deh all over. I just hoping that this is not what’s wrong with my baby girl,” the East La Penitence mother said.

Stabroek News was unable to reach Chief Medical Officer Dr Shamdeo Persaud for a comment on the issue. So far, the Health Ministry is yet to release any new information on the spread of the virus throughout Berbice and Georgetown.

Two weeks ago, over 170 samples were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing and 62 samples returned positive.

There are 36 confirmed cases of the virus in Region Six, while 19 cases were discovered in Region Four. The other cases were scattered across Region Three, Five and Ten.

Persaud previously said they had increased their awareness campaign and fogging exercises as the figures soared. “We are focussing more on educating the population,” he had also stated.

However, residents in many parts of the city and along the East Coast complain that the mosquito population is still significant.

He said when the virus emerged in May, vector control officers were on the ground and visiting the homes of the suspected and infected patients to inform them about the virus.

The mosquito is bred in uncovered overhead tanks, pans, tyres, drums, discarded coconut shells, flower pots, water and feeding dishes for pets and vases in homes. Some of its symptoms include 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 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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