Chikungunya cases increase in St Lucia and the region

GIS Media Release

CASTRIES, St Lucia (GIS) — Officials at the ministry of health in Saint Lucia are aiming to reduce mosquito populations in order to curb the increasing spread of chikungunya.

Already, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has 500 confirmed cases of chikungunya in the Caribbean, with 20 in Saint Lucia. Officials warn that these cases are not truly reflective of the actual number of those who have contracted the virus and that, because there is no vaccine and no cure for chikungunya, everyone is at risk.

Recent field surveys indicate that mosquito levels on the island remain high despite a decrease from 36 percent to 29 percent, health officials say. The World Health Organization (WHO) standard is at 5 percent.

“It will get worse before it gets better, and the numbers will increase,” Dr Michele Francois, surveillance officer at the ministry of health said. “What we are aiming for is to decrease the number of vectors that can circulate the virus so that health services will not be overwhelmed.”

In addition to regular surveillance and site visits, health officers host education and information sessions which have spawned community clean up campaigns.

Vieux Fort North Constituency Council executive officer, Natasha Clovis, said community clean up campaigns in their area have been successful.

“We have already started a clean-up campaign, and we are also going from house to house in order to educate members of our community about reducing the spread of vector-borne diseases,” she said. “We have partnered with schools and we are educating all of the children, from Grade 1 and up. We believe that the more education people have, the more they can work with us and everyone can get on board to help curb the problem. We do not want people to panic. Rather, we want them to be proactive in their approach.”

The ministry of health believes that mobilizing communities and engaging them in awareness activities is essential in the fight against vector-borne diseases.

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