113 suspected chik-V-related deaths in region
THE PAN American Health Organization (PAHO) is reporting at least 113 suspected chikungunya-related deaths in the Caribbean, mainly due to complications from other illnesses.
Jamaica has recorded at least two deaths suspected to be related to the virus, which has a fatality rate of less than one per cent.
Earlier this week, seven-year-old Xavier Miller, a Mona Primary School student from St Andrew, and 14-year-old Azee Baker, a St Jago High School student from St Catherine, died after contracting the chikungunya virus (chik-V).
According to the PAHO data, 55 deaths have been linked to the chik-V outbreak in Martinique since last December, when the disease was first detected in the Americas and the Caribbean. Forty-nine deaths were reported in Guadeloupe, six in the Dominican Republic, and three in St Maarten. Puerto Rico is now investigating whether two recent deaths were related to the virus.
Health authorities said although all the victims were infected with the virus, chikungunya may not have been the main cause of death. The victims were reported to have other illnesses, which caused complications.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency said a total of 644,686 suspected and 9,640 confirmed chikungunya cases have been reported in the region as of September 8.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, rash, vomiting and diarrhoea. There is no specific treatment, but medications can be used to reduce the symptoms.
Health authorities continue to emphasise the importance of taking measures to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, especially at this time of the year, the peak transmission season in the Caribbean due to increased rainfall.
Some 850,000 people in the Americas have contracted dengue, which is spread by the same mosquitoes, and 470 have died from the virus in 2014, PAHO said.