Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Chikungunya is not Ebola

Published:Thursday | September 11, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I spent two years working in the Virology Department with medical technologists in the Department of Microbiology, at the University Hospital. Dr Esmie Rose was head of the department and their professionalism was exceptional.

The haemagglutination-inhibition (HAI) test for the virus is simple, but the antigen might be expensive. The test looks for a rise in titre or antibodies which establish that the body is fighting the infection. It isn't rocket science. The body develops antibodies which fight infections.

The chikungunya virus is unlikely to kill any of its victims, the mortality rate is very low. Dengue fever is more likely to kill. This isn't Ebola. All our doctors, nurses and other health professionals know this. The only problem is that it can disrupt people's lives, exacerbate absenteeism, and affect our tourist industry. Who wants to go on vacation and get sick?

The Government is, therefore, caught in a dilemma, but panicking the public isn't the way to go. Persons who contract the virus may have rashes, joint pains or a fever, but it isn't life-threatening. Dr Fenton Ferguson can't dance around this issue, it needs public relations to convince Jamaicans that they must not be frightened. The test is simple. Remember, this isn't an Ebola outbreak, it will not kill you.

MARK CLARKE

mark_clarke9@yahoo.com

Siloah PO, St Elizabeth