Belize is only one of two Central American countries yet to report a confirmed autochthonous, or locally acquired chikungunya case to date (Honduras being the other); however, this may have changed as at least three confirmatory tests are pending awaiting results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) head office in Trinidad.
The three cases are from Las Flore sin Belmopan.
7 News Belize reports that Dr. Michael Pitts, Director of Health Services said in an interview: “Out of the 11 we had 3 reactive by the screen and now we are sending it for confirmation. I will tell you it is heading in the direction that we think it would go because the population, we are finding these preliminary tests positive from Las Flores where we have a lot of people traveling to Salvador and as you know Salvador have a lot of cases. We have increased our level of activities in terms of house to house inspection and spraying in the area.”
This comes after a recent official press briefing when Dr. Pitts said that Belize will see a case sooner rather than later. During the press briefing on dengue, chikungunya and Ebola, Pitts said, We have seen Chikungunya in El Salvador, in Guatemala; in fact over this last week at least five provinces of Guatemala have reported Chikungunya. El Salvador has also reported. I haven’t seen any reports out of Honduras. For Belize we have no known cases but we are actively looking for cases.”
Chikungunya is transmitted by the same Aedes mosquito vector that transmits dengue fever, which is ever present in Belize. Pitts said there has been 705 cases of dengue with 187 cases of hemorrhagic dengue in the country. Most of the dengue cases seen are coming from the Cayo District, Corozal District and the majority from the Belize District.
There has been approximately 17,000 suspected and confirmed locally acquired chikungunya cases reported in Central America since the first local transmission of the virus was reported in the Americas in December 2013. The majority have been reported from El Salvador and Guatemala.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache. Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability. There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.
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