In 2014, the BVI and the rest of the Caribbean region grappled with Chikungunya and Dengue fever and finally succeeded in getting rid of the two diseases. Now, health experts worry that the drought situation being experienced by the region may bring the diseases back in full force.
The Territory is currently on drought watch due to the El Nino phenomenon and Health Disaster Coordinator, Dr. Ronald Georges warned that any sporadic periods of rainfall have the potential for quick increases in mosquito breeding possibly resulting in dengue and Chikungunya cases.
He said, “Residents are being urged to continue to practice good hygiene and to keep their surrounding free of standing water especially during the brief periods of rainfall that we have been experiencing during the past few weeks.”
In September 2014, Ckikungunya was classified as an epidemic by the Environmental Health Department. The virus affected Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Jost Van Dyke and Anegada. Ridding the Territory of the disease required a partnership between the various public agencies, and residents doing their part as well.
The Chikungunya virus is carried mainly by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and is classified as a dengue-like sickness. Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with Chikungunya than with dengue fever which is a widely known mosquito carried infection.
The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito and the majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to ten days. Currently, there is no known vaccine or treatment for this condition.