Health officials are investigating two possible deaths in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) as a consequence of the mosquito-borne illness Chikungunya, which causes fever and severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Luis de Shong, said the two suspected deaths have not been confirmed by laboratory tests.
“They both occurred in elderly patients who died at home. The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is currently investigating these cases to ascertain the cause of death.
“The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment urges everyone to be vigilant and to help in the fight against Chikungunya,” de Shong said.
To date, there have been 173 laboratory-confirmed cases and 1,220 epidemiology-linked cases of Chikungunya in SVG, where the disease was first diagnosed in April, about six months after reaching the Caribbean.
de Shong said that his ministry is continuing to implement surveillance and vector control activities as a response to the virus.
He said that although there has been a decrease in the number of reported cases since the virus was diagnosed in SVG, the virus remains prevalent in the country and also throughout the region.
“Persons who have not yet contracted the disease are still at risk of contracting the virus,” he said, adding that the fight against Chikungunya is also a fight against dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever, which are spread by the same vector, the aedes aegypti mosquito.
“It is, therefore, appropriate and necessary for everyone to protect him or herself from mosquito bites and to avoid harbouring conditions which cause mosquitos to breed,” de Shong said.
He said health care providers, both private and public, are advised to comply with public health guidelines.
“Case investigation forms must be completed and submitted to the Surveillance Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in all suspected cases of Chikungunya.
“Laboratory tests must be carried out on infants, pregnant women, complicated cases and persons of advanced age who are suspected of having the virus.
“All suspected and confirmed cases must be reported to the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in a bid to facilitate appropriate planning and response,” de Shong said.