Caribbean Diseases
(Dengue, chikungunya and Zika)

Stay vigilant about these diseases that are present in the Caribbean.)

Dengue, chikungunya and Zika are still circulating in the Caribbean region.

So says the Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA, as it urges member countries to be vigilant about these three arboviral diseases.

“Member States must maintain a strategic approach to surveillance and sample collection and submission to increase our chances of early identification of infections,” says Executive Director of CARPHA, Dr. Joy St. John.

A recent advisory from CARPHA further stated: “Given the increase in regional and international travel to the Caribbean and the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are endemic to this Region and transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika, CARPHA is urging its Member States to strengthen routine surveillance for undifferentiated fever in their communities.”

Understanding these diseases:


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines the Zika virus as a disease which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus).

The illness, it says, is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week. In fact, most people do not have symptoms or will have only mild symptoms.

Pregnant woman are at a higher risk of effects, however, as infection can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.

CARPHA says Zika has been confirmed as a cause of congenital abnormalities in neonates of women infected with Zika virus during pregnancy and is also a trigger of Guillain-Barrι Syndrome.

Symptoms of the Zika Virus:
• rashes on the skin
• conjunctivitis, or red eyes
• fever
• joint pain
• muscle pain
• headache
• pain behind the eyes
• vomiting


While people who are infected with the Zika virus may not develop symptoms, a person who contracts chikungunya, or chik-V, is likely to experience any of the symptoms outlined below:

• a fever
• depression
• fatigue
• a headache
• muscle pain
• a rash

The most common of the symptoms, however, include fever and joint pain. Symptoms typically begin about 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, the CDC says.

Those most at risk for being infected with chikungunya include newborns, people 65 years or older, and people who have a history of medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Once an infected person recovers from chikungunya, evidence suggests they are likely to be immune from future infections.


Known in some parts of the world as ‘black bone fever’, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines dengue as a viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

Dengue is the most prevalent viral infection transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, according to the WHO.

More than 3.9 billion people worldwide are at risk of contracting dengue, with an estimated 96 million symptomatic cases and 40,000 deaths every year.

Early detection of dengue is crucial to prevent the disease from becoming sever and in some cases fatal.

Symptoms of Dengue:
• sudden onset of very high fever
• severe headache usually at the back of eyes
• Pain in the muscles and joints
• Development of skin rashes
• fatigue
• vomiting
• mild bleeding

Prevention is better than cure

At the local level, the Ministry of Health advises that its Insect Vector Control Division can be contacted if any of the following occurs:
• You have been diagnosed with dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, West Nile virus, hairy-moth infestation or any other insect or organism-borne disease.
• Members of your family, village or community have been diagnosed with any of the illnesses listed above.
• Your community or area has been flooded and you are concerned about the outbreak of disease.
• Your community or area has an unusually severe infestation of insects or other organisms that may spread disease.

As with all diseases and viruses, prevention is the best course of action in reducing transmission.

The main advice in reducing the spread of zika, chikungunya and dengue is by eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites in and around the home.

Here are some tangible tips to practice to ensure your environment is not a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

• Keep water drums and barrels tightly covered to prevent contamination.
• Throw out stagnant water from outdoor items such as plant pots, old tyres, and other containers.
• Check for water-holding containers around your house such as wares-racks, leaking pipes etc.
• Treat potential breeding habitats with insecticide.
• Keep windows closed where possible to avoid mosquitoes getting into the home or add screens to your windows or doors.
• Use insect repellant, including for babies.
• Ventilate dark areas such as cupboards and closets in your home.

If there is an infestation of insects in your community or any other perceived risks, the Ministry of Health urges citizens to contact its Insect Vector Control Unit which will visit your area to assess the situation and determine what appropriate measures must be carried out to bring the situation under control.

source: Stay vigilant about these diseases that are present in the Caribbean
Loop News February 2, 2023 10:20 PM ET

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