The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on Wednesday confirmed 12 new cases of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, bringing to 15 the number of confirmed cases in the country.
All 15 cases are on the Grenadine island of Bequia, the Ministry of Health said on Friday.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected aedes aegypti mosquito resulting in fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
Persons experiencing such signs and symptoms are strongly advised to establish contact with their health care provider, the Ministry of Health said.
The illness was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in St Martin, and Antigua and St Vincent and the Grenadines have become the latest countries to declare an outbreak.
The head of the CARPHA, Dr. James Hospedales, has declared the chikungunya virus has reached epidemic proportions in the Caribbean.
“By definition this is an epidemic since it represents an unusual number of cases of this problem where we would never have it before,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation on Thursday.
Hospedales said that as of April 28, there were 4,108 probable cases in 14 countries across the region.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Heath in Kingstown said that the Insect Vector Control Unit will continue intensified vector control activities, including fogging operations on Bequia.
“Professionals within the Ministry will continue to participate in interactive programmes on radio stations and conduct educational sessions in various communities on the mainland and also on the Grenadine islands to build awareness of the threat of the disease and how it can be controlled and prevented,” Luis de Shong, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health said on Friday.