Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse says the Ministry of Health in collaboration with health researchers nationally and regionally has commenced research to characterize the chikungunya fever outbreak in Jamaica. One of the key deliverables of this group is to develop guidelines for the management of chikungunya fever specific to Jamaica.
The Ministry will also use the opportunity to get a better sense of the extent of the outbreak and the effect on the population as it is believed that several cases were not reported to the Ministry’s Surveillance Unit and so could not be included in official figures.
In the meantime, Dr. DuCasse says persons with underlying medical conditions who have chikungunya infection should seek medical attention immediately. Dr. DuCasse says these persons are at increased risk of severe symptoms and complications including death.
“Persons with underlying medical conditions, especially those with non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, arthritis and sickle cell, tend to be more impacted by chikungunya infection and so need to be medically managed and monitored carefully. The Ministry therefore recommends that if experiencing symptoms these persons should seek medical attention immediately,” Dr. DuCasse said.
The most common symptoms of chikungunya fever include high fever, joint pain mainly in the ankles, toes, fingers, elbows, wrists and knees, headache, muscle pain and a rash which may last up to ten days in the initial phase. Other symptoms reported with CHIKV infection include back pain, chills, weakness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.