Chikungunya warning

THE revelation that Fiji has recorded its first case of the mosquito-borne virus Chikungunya is worrying.

It has to be a worry when one considers the fact that the virus has caused a number of deaths and hospitalised many people in the Pacific region.

As our report on Page 2 states, this has prompted the Health Ministry to issue an alert calling on people displaying dengue-like symptoms to present themselves to the nearest health centre or hospital in an effort to minimise risks of the virus spreading in the country.

National Adviser for Communicable Disease Dr Mike Kama said our first case was recorded after a foreigner who had been infected with Chikungunya, prior to entering the country, sought medical treatment last week.

Dr Kama said, “as far as we know, this is the first reported case of the virus”.

He said the infected person presented himself at the Nadi Hospital and after primary analysis was transferred to the Lautoka Hospital for treatment.

“He has since been cleared and has returned home,” Dr Kama said.

He said the chances of the virus being spread if the victim had been bitten by mosquitoes while in the country were very low.

However, the reality is that such a virus can easily be transmitted across the Pacific Ocean.

It actually places pressure on us as individuals to be proactive and work together to get rid of mosquito breeding spots.

That starts in our own back yard.

It is frightening when one considers the impact such a virus can have on our population.

The anti-dengue campaign was an opportunity for us to unite against a deadly virus.

Now that we have a case of Chikungunya, there can be no room for complacency.

It means we need to knuckle down and use this as a warning to be prepared.

That means destroying potential breeding places. It means being responsible and considerate.

Does this mean reporting inconsiderate neighbours to the authorities? Maybe.

It surely means taking yourself to the nearest health centre or hospital if you experience symptoms of dengue fever.

And that means a fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rashes.

There is no cure for the disease and for those who don’t know this, in French Polynesia, more than 69,000 people representing more than 25 per cent of the population sought initial care showing clinical signs, resulting in 938 hospitalisations and 16 deaths.

More than 10,000 cases have been reported in Tonga and 4500 in Samoa to date.

No one is beating the gun on this. Let’s be vigilant.

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