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No chikungunya in Cooks: MOH

Tuesday October 21, 2014 Written by Published in Health
Liz Iro, Secretary of Health. Liz Iro, Secretary of Health.

The chikungunya virus outbreak currently spreading in French Polynesia has yet to make it to the shores of the Cook Islands, says a top health Official.

Secretary Liz Iro with the Ministry of Health confirmed no cases have been confirmed in the country, despite an earlier scare.
According to regional media reports, 83 cases of the mosquito-borne illness have been confirmed in French Polynesia with more suspected – prompting the government to declare an epidemic.
Cases of the illness have also been reported in Jamaica and Costa Rica.
Iro said health officials are staying on top of the situation by keeping contact with regional and global health organisations, while monitoring all flights coming in from Tahiti.
The Ministry of Health currently has inspectors present on every flight to screen passengers and provide advice to passengers, she said.
Health officials are advising all locals travelling abroad to bring mosquito repellent and to cover up to avoid getting bitten.
“It’s very similar to what we’ve taken with dengue and zika,” said Iro.
The Ministry is also keeping up-to-date on the regional situation by receiving daily updates from the World Health Organisation and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
 “We are constantly in communication with each other, and doing what we can to help each other,” she said.
Previously, Iro said she received a report from Public Health describing a suspected case from an individual who had travelled to Samoa, however testing has proved to be negative.
Symptoms of chikungunya have been described as similar to those of dengue fever and the zika virus.
According the WHO, the illness is characterised by an abrupt onset of fever, often accompanied by joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.
Joint pain can be debilitating and usually lasts for a few days, with some cases prolonged to weeks. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years.
With similar symptoms to other mosquito-borne illnesses, it can be often be misdiagnosed.
No medicine exists to treat infection, however health officials advise rest, fluids, and painkillers to relieve fever and joint pain.
A report from the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims an earlier case of chikungunya was treated in French Polynesia last May, however no outbreaks were reported.         - Emmanuel Samoglou

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