Health Minister Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen is urging Grenadians to take steps to prevent the deadly Chikungunya virus and its debilitating effects from getting into the island.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is prevalent in Grenada, carries the dengue and Chikungunya virus.
Addressing reporters at Tuesday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, the Health Minister said she has been meeting with stakeholders in the country to discuss and prepare for the eventuality of the virus landing on the Grenadian shore but more importantly to educate the population on preventative measures against the disease.
Dr. Modeste-Curwen encouraged the nation to clean up in and around their homes, and communities in order to get rid of unwanted equipment and containers that can provide favourable breeding conditions for mosquitoes.
She told the media that Grenadians need to preserve their health and prevent the disease.
The senior government minister was accompanied to the briefing by Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health with responsibility for the Primary Health Care Project, Dr Francis Martin, who said that the deadly Chikungunya virus which resurfaced in the Caribbean last year after many years, has the potential to pose a serious challenge for health officials.
The disease has already showed up in neighbouring Caribbean islands such as Dominica, St Vincent and St Lucia.
Dr. Martin called on persons experiencing symptoms of the virus such as high fever, extreme joint pains, headaches and back pain to seek medical assistance.
He said the virus has an incubation period of seven to twelve days and warned that the pain associated with the disease is so severe that it does not respond well to the traditional pain reliving medications.
He added that symptoms that affect body joints could last from months to years.
According to the medical doctor, if the Chikungunya virus lands in Grenada, it can have serious impact on the country’s economy as persons infected with the virus might not be able to work for a long period of time.
“This virus is not like dengue, it must be avoided at all cost”, Dr Martin said after explaining that the symptoms coming from the Chikungunya virus far exceeds those affecting people taken down by dengue.
He noted that while the Ministry of Health will continue to play its part, the prevention of the virus relies on the personal efforts of everyone in the country.
He suggested that Grenadians may need to make certain lifestyle changes such as wearing long clothes to prevent mosquito bites.
Senior Environmental Health Officer with responsibility for Vector Control, Kennie James disclosed that his department will continue to engage in the surveillance work in an effort to keep down the mosquito population.
He reminded the nation that the control of the mosquito population is not the sole responsibility of the Ministry of Health, but everyone.
James stressed that fogging should only be used as a last resort and reminded the population that diseases such as the Chikungunya virus are preventable and Grenadians should take the necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid infection.