The painful chikungunya virus is spreading rapidly in Caribbean with the hospitals and clinics across the country seeing thousands of people with its symptoms.
Meanwhile, the outbreak may badly hit the tourism industry here. Tourism ministers have warning the region needs to work together to combat the illness before it further affects the populations and begins to hit visitors numbers over the summer.
Headaches, burning fever and joint pain are some of the common symptoms of the mosquito bitten disease.
34-year-old Sahira Francisco, who suffers from the symptoms, says, “You feel it in your bones, your fingers and your hands. It’s like everything is coming apart.”
“It is terrible, I have never in my life gotten such an illness. All my joints are in pain,” said Maria Norde, a 66-year-old woman from eastern Caribbean island of Dominica.
Scientist have cautioned against the Chikunguny virus. The disease was first detected in 2012 in the US.
Health experts say, no vaccine or medicine has been developed so far, hence, the people, especially those visiting the affected regions, should avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and properly covered clothes, besides using an appropriate insect repellent.
According to the experts, deaths from chikungunya are rare. Among the age groups on high risk are very young, very old and very sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, “Travelers who go to these islands in the Caribbean are at risk of getting chikungunya. In addition, travelers to Africa, Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific are also at risk, as the virus is present in many of these areas.”
Chikungunya virus carrying mosquitoes can bite anytime, whether day or night.
Authorities are attempting to control mosquitoes across the Caribbean There have been no confirmed cases of local transmission of chikungunya. Meanwhile, the experts say the high number of travelers to the region can lead to soaring of cases of the disease.
- high fever
- severe joint pain mainly in the arms and legs
- muscle pain
- back pain
- rash (about 50 percent of affected people).
The symptoms and illness in most of the people start disappearing after seven to 10 days of treatment. Although some people may develop longer term joint pain.