• Ministry of Health calls for people to reduce mosquitoes breeding sites.
• Symptoms of Chikunguya are stronger than those of dengue.
A French tourist, who was in the country for eleven days in May, is the first case of Chikungunya virus confirmed in the country, as revealed by the Ministry of Health. The woman showed positive molecular tests, according to the National Virology Laboratory in France.
The Ministry of Health is still not clear whether the case is autochthonous, since it indicates that the patient could have been incubating the disease when she came to the country; however, Dr. Mary Ethel Trejos, director of Health Surveillance, explained that “for a more proactive and protective action at national level, we are taking it as the first case confirmed.”
“We received a report from the National Virology Laboratory in France, where they reported that the patient became ill on May 27, when she went to the French health service, took the test and the result of the PSR was positive. Based on the incubation period and the dates the patient was here, and taking May 27 as the date of onset of symptoms, there is a high possibility that the patient was infected in the country; hence, we’re taking it as a confirmed case,” said Trejos.
“We insist on the fact that the main protection barrier is declining the population of vectors serving as the vehicle for transmitting Chikungunya virus,” said Trejos.
The Ministry of Health thinks that European tourists visited San José, Tortuguero in Limon, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Quepos, and Monteverde, Puntarenas.
Other Cases Imported
The Ministry of Health confirmed that other 13 suspected cases of Chikungunya virus have been registered in the country; this is based on the partial result issued by the Directorate of Health Surveillance as of Epidemiological Week 27 (completed on July 5).
According to the version of Dr. Mary Ethel Trejos, Director of Health Surveillance, ” out of the 13 cases registered, one corresponds to a case in the sub-acute phase, which presented his acute stage in Haiti and the other corresponds to a woman who presented her acute stage in Dominican Republic; therefore, from an epidemiological point of view, they do not represent a risk to the country.”
Trejos also recalled that “out of the remaining 11 cases, four have been classified as probable (meet the “case” definition) and seven cases are pending lab results. To date, all cases classified as probable are imported from Dominican Republic. ”
“We do not want an epidemic to sweep us, as it is sweeping in some other countries in the Caribbean area. We want to call for the support of all sectors, the education sector, the tourism sector, the commercial sector, industrial sector; because I think we all have a lot to do with this,” said Dr. María Elena López, Minister of Health.
Since December 6, 2013, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) had already confirmed the first cases of autochthonous transmission of Chikungunya virus on the island of Saint Martin, and other Caribbean countries like Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
According to the Ministry of Health, the Dengue National Technical Group, comprised of the country’s health authorities, provide continuous monitoring of possible cases of Chikungunya in the country.
Among the actions that are being undertaken by the Ministry of Health, we could mention: eliminating breeding sites for these vectors, coordinating with entry points by air, sea and land nationwide, providing information on the symptoms of the disease so that those who enter the country know about them and, in case of presenting them, may go immediately to any health services for an early diagnosis.
What is Chikungunya?
Chikungunya fever is caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. It is a disease that causes severe and disabling joint symptoms.
It is primarily transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. The mosquito can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors.
Symptoms: fever of 39 degrees or more, severe joint pain, swelling, headache, muscle pain, rash on the trunk and extremities, fatigue, nausea, vomit, and conjunctivitis.
As there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Chikungunya, treatment focuses specifically on relieving symptoms.