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HomeNewsArchivesDOH Confirms Local Chikungunya Case

DOH Confirms Local Chikungunya Case

The V.I. Department of Health confirmed Tuesday the first locally acquired new case of chikungunya virus, one of two new cases confirmed in the territory.

The case was reported on St. Thomas, according to the Health Department.

The second case is imported, the DOH said in a news release issued Wednesday. The patient has a recent travel history outside of the territory. One previous imported case was confirmed on May 12.

“With the increasing number of confirmed cases reported in the Caribbean, the Department of Health has been proactively preparing for the introduction of the chikungunya virus into the territory," Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett said. "The department is working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Juan F. Luis Hospital, Schneider Regional Medical Center, V.I. Waste Management Authority and the V.I. Department of Tourism to raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus.”

Chikungunya or Chik-V, is a mosquito-borne viral disease similar to dengue, transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. Like dengue, chikungunya is spread by the Aedes species mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti, which is found in the Virgin Islands. These mosquitoes bite during the day.

There is no vaccine to prevent the disease or specific antiviral treatment, the DOH explained. "Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after the subject is bitten by an infected mosquito and may include fever with severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.

“The Department of Health’s ‘Fight the Bite Campaign’ has in the past focused on dengue, the most common mosquito-borne disease in the Virgin Islands. We now add another focus, chikungunya,” Plaskett said.

The department urged all residents and visitors to protect themselves against mosquito bites. Guidelines provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:

– use insect repellent with products containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of eucalyptus and para-menthane diol as an active ingredient;

– wear long sleeves and long pants when possible;

-and use mosquito proof screens on windows and doors.

Residents should also take special precautions to reduce mosquito breeding areas in and around dwellings, residences and businesses. These precautions include emptying standing water from containers and keeping tires in a dry place. Punching or drilling holes in tired to allow water to drain out is also effective, the department said.

Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Marc Jerome urged people who begin experiencing chikungunya to see a doctor.

"Health care providers should watch for other possible cases of chikungunya," Jerome continued. "People at increased risk for severe symptoms include newborns exposed during delivery, adults older than 65 years, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease."

Chikungunya is reportable by law and all confirmed or suspected cases must be reported to the Health Department using the V.I. Notifiable Disease Form. Forms should be submitted via confidential fax to 1-340-718-1508. Copies of the form, which have been distributed to health care providers, can also be found by visiting www.healthvi.org and downloaded under Forms and Applications via www.healthvi.org.

More in formation is available at the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health website, www.healthvi.org, or by calling 1-340-773-1311.

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