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Ferguson to doctors: Rule out other illnesses before diagnosing patients with Chikungunya

Published:Wednesday | September 10, 2014 | 3:52 PM
Dr Fenton Ferguson - File

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson is urging doctors to ensure that they rule out conditions such as dengue, influenza and leptospirosis before diagnosing patients with chikungunya.

Speaking at a meeting at his ministry yesterday, Ferguson said there is traditionally an increase in cases of influenza and dengue at this time of year and the symptoms are similar to Chikungunya.

He says it is, therefore, important that doctors rule out these and other illnesses with similar symptoms before concluding that a patient has chikungunya so that the ministry can have a true picture of the viruses that are circulating.

There has been criticism that the health ministry does not have a true picture of the number of cases of chikungunya because it has not been testing all persons with symptoms.

However, Dr Fenton Ferguson says the health ministry does not require laboratory testing of every person with symptoms of chikungunya.

He says if every member of a household is ill, only one or two would be tested for the disease.

And he explains that diagnosis of the others would depend on whether the samples come back positive or negative for chikungunya.

In the meantime, the health minister is emphasising that there is no need for doctors to wait for laboratory confirmations of chikungunya to begin treatment as this is usually done based on the symptoms.

He says treatment includes the use of paracetamol for pain, rest and drinking lots of fluids.

And the health minister is advising persons not to take medication containing aspirin, ibuprofen and diclofenac if they believe they may have chikungunya or dengue.

The health ministry has so far confirmed chikungunya cases in St Thomas, St Catherine, St Ann and Kingston and St Andrew.

It says up to September 6, it reviewed 225 possible cases of which 120 were deemed suspected cases of chikungunya.

The ministry says of the 120 suspected cases, 22 have been discarded as they tested negative, 24 are laboratory confirmed and the others remain suspected cases.

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