17 CHIKV cases confirmed in Suriname
PARAMARIBO –– The Suriname Bureau of Public Health (BOG) has confirmed 17 cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya disease; and widespread infection is expected.
During a Press conference late yesterday, BOG officials, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan-American Health Organization warned that if precautionary measures were not taken, the virus could affect thousands.
The first chikungunya case was confirmed on June 7 after a man who returned from vacation in St Martin developed symptoms of the disease, said Maureen Van Dijk-Wijngaarde, deputy director of BOG.
Last week, a second case, a woman who returned from Guyana, was confirmed, while the remaining 15 were confirmed on yesterday.
“Chikungunya is a new virus for Suriname. Since there is no resistance as yet, everyone here is vulnerable. Therefore in the coming months we may expect thousands to be infected by the virus”, CARPHA’s director James Hospedales warned. He further noted that currently the disease had been spread to 24 countries and territories in the Caribbean, with so far a total of some 5,000 confirmed cases.
Minister of Health Michel Blokland urged the public to desist from the careless dumping of containers that hold water and provide breeding areas for mosquitoes, such as empty bottles, cans, tyres, pails, car wrecks and refrigerators, but to dispose these items in a proper fashion.
The virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pains in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, headache and nausea.