The Daily Herald reports that the authorities on St Maarten announced on Monday that the number of chikungunya has climbed to ten. Health Minister Cornelius de Weever said a countrywide cleanup will start on January 25 to eliminate mosquito breeding sites in the various districts. Of the 10 cases recorded, two were earlier this month.
On St Maarten the authorities will start removing old car wrecks this week which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The medical health sector is working very closely with PAHO and WHO on the best ways to combat the virus and keep St. Maarten healthy for its residents and visitors,” Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said.
“The focus right now is not only on communicating the steps which can be taken by all individuals to combat the virus, but also important is the message stressing cooperation across the board. The emphasis is on all ministries working together to understand the potential of this disease if left unchecked. In addition to that the individual responsibility, while we should not be pushing the panic button, we should all share the responsibility as far as curbing the spread of the chikungunya virus,” Wescot- Williams added. She said the travel advisory which was issued by the United States Department of State, is part of procedure once a transmissible virus such as dengue and chikungunya are concerned. “The advisories are not to push the panic button, but are related to the reporting and advisory obligations.
Chikungunya, is a virus similar to dengue, transmitted by the same mosquito that spreads dengue. The symptoms are similar to dengue fever and may include a sudden high fever, headache, rash, nausea and muscle pain. Stiffness and severe joint pain, especially in the wrists, knuckles or ankles are more often associated with chikungunya. The incubation period (time from infection to illness) can be two to 12 days, but is usually three to seven days. Acute chikungunya fever typically lasts from a few days to a few weeks and some infected patients in the Asian region have reported debilitating arthritic pain persisting for weeks or months. Most patients feel better within a week; some people may develop longer-term joint pain; people at increased risk for severe disease include new-borns exposed during delivery, older adults and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Deaths are rare. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya virus infection. The recommended prevention is to reduce mosquito exposure.
Residents and visitors are reminded to protect themselves especially when out during dusk and dawn hours by using mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. The Collective Prevention Services on St Maarten is calling on all businesses, schools, students, community councils, social clubs and public services to actively take actions on a daily basis to eliminate mosquitoes by checking containers such as buckets and water tanks for larvae and eliminate the breeding source. If there aren’t any containers with water for mosquitoes to lay the larvae there won’t be any adult mosquitoes.
All these measures are also necessary on Saba, where the population and the Agriculture Station are used to thes routines. The coincidence on Saba is the distribution of biological larvicide by the FSW Saba and initiated by Sandra Moreno Reyes from Cuba. All extra measures and efforts for prevention are more than welcome.