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Khan: Abdominal virus not chikungunya

Thursday, December 19, 2013

That nasty virus many people have contracted which sort of resembles dengue is not the chikungunya virus which has been reported for the first time in the Western Hemisphere in the island of St Maarten and is posing a threat to the rest of the Caribbean. “We haven’t found any. Not yet,” Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan told the T&T Guardian yesterday. Told about the current virus in T&T, Khan added, “That’s not it. I had it. That’s an abdominal virus.” He explained how a virus is medically determined. 



“There’s something called serotyping which determines exactly what virus it is, he said. “We had tests for dengue and the other viruses and are able to distinguish what is what. I have not been alerted that there has been any positive serotyping for the virus from St Maarten. When we do, I will call the Guardian.” Khan said the Health Ministry has instituted a surveillance system for chikungunya. 


He said: “We have alerted port and public health. The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre has sent out a release to the various departments of the Ministry of Health alerting them.” Khan said the treatment for chikungunya is supportive, like dengue. “That means plenty of fluids, bed rest and no aspirin. Chikungunya, mosquito-borne and resembling dengue, is not fatal like dengue. But US health authorities have issued a travel advisory for St Maarten where many North American tourists head to at the start of the winter season. 


The spread of the disease to other Caribbean island was possible, the advisory said. An ABC report said it was the first time the disease, typically found in Africa and Asia, has been reported in the Western Hemisphere among people who have not traveled recently, suggesting that the virus is now being carried by infected island mosquitoes. The World Health Organisation has reported ten confirmed cases in St Maarten.


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