Suspected 60,000 cases of tropical virus in Haiti

by Lisa Jones, Plan UK | Plan UK
Monday, 21 July 2014 14:01 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

HAITIAN health authorities are working to stop the spread of a tropical virus suspected of infecting more than 60,000 people in the country, reports children’s charity Plan International.

Chikungunya is spread by mosquitoes and has similar symptoms to Dengue fever.

It has affected more than half the population in the West region of Haiti and 11 per cent of those in the capital Port-au-Prince.

“Chikungunya fever is a viral illness spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, which is often found in urban-areas,” says John Chaloner, Plan’s Country Director in Haiti.

“Plan has supported health authorities in the north-east of the country with medication and awareness-raising activities,” he adds.

Hundreds of thousands of suspected cases have been identified across the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America.

Although nobody has died in Haiti, there have been 26 deaths across the region, according to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

Patients usually recover within a week but some suffer from longer-term joint pain. Symptoms include fever, joint pain and swelling, headache and swelling.

“There is no vaccine for Chikungunya fever, so the focus is on helping to relieve the pain and fever,” says Mr Chaloner.

“It is advised that effective prevention methods are used to avoid getting bitten,” he adds.

Experts fear the disease could become established in the region, although there are indications the impact of the virus is decreasing.

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