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Chikungunya virus warning for T&T
The Chikungunya virus has quickly spread to some 25 Caribbean countries and it is only a matter of time before this country starts recording cases, said Dr James Hospedales, executive director at Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
Hospedales speaking at an inter-agency meeting on the Chikungunya virus held at the Normandie Hotel, St Ann’s on Wednesday said the virus could easily effect 30 per cent of a country’s population at one time.
As of June 30, this year there have been close to 6,000 recorded cases, Hospedales added.
He said the virus hit Grenada last week and it is expected to soon be in T&T. Hospedales said what was particularily worrying was that the virus has a crippling effect and could severely affect a person’s joints.
The recovery period could take months or sometimes up to a year. Hospedales said in some cases people fell down and could not move for two or three hours.
The most vulnerable, he added, were children, the elderly and people suffering from high blood pressure, hypertension and diabetes.
“It is inevitable that this virus will hit this country if it is not here already. We are in for a rough ride because it will impact on several areas,” Hospedales said.
He said apart from ensuring that hospitals and other medical institutions were well equipped and staffed the virus could also negatively affect the tourism industry.
“The capacity of the hospitals could be tested as well as NIS (National Insurance Scheme). There could be a surge of patients at the hospitals,” Hospedales said.
Also speaking was Local Government Minister Marlene Coudray who called on citizens to do their part by ensuring their surroundings were clean.
She said the derelict vehicles posed a serious health risk as they were havens for mosquito breeding. The Chikungunya virus is spread to people by the aedes aegypti and the aedes albopictus mosquitoes—the same vector that transmit the dengue virus.
These mosquitoes breed in clear water and bite mostly during the daytime.
Dr Clive Tiluckdharry principal medical officer environmental health of the health ministry said the aedes aegypti mosquito is now biting at nights as it has adopted to artificial light.
Hospitals on full alert
Amid warnings that there might be a surge of patients at the hospitals once the Chikungunya virus strikes T&T, Dr Shenenaz Mohammed, chairman of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), has assured that all systems have been put in place.
She said the doctors and nurses were fully prepared adding, “We are ready. I want to give that assurance to members of the public.”
Mohammed said apart from Mt Hope there were clinics at St Joseph, Arima and Chaguanas which open from Sunday to Sunday.
“These clinics are GP clinics or general practitioner clinics, and apart from that we have the accident and emergency department. So we are well prepared.
“If a patient needs to be admitted to a ward from these clinic we already have that in place,” Mohammed added.
She said most of the treatment for Chikungunya was conservative in that the symptoms would be addressed.
"We would examine the patient and give a prescription...that's what we mean by conservative."