By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV Online
Mosquito-borne virus ‘Chikungunya’ is fast making its presence felt, in island nations where the virus was previously non-existent. The viral disease is transmitted to humans by mosquitos causing fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, rash and is known to have caused death, in some cases.
Pacific countries who haven’t yet reported any cases of Chikungunya are at great risk of “importing the disease” from island nations that are experiencing large outbreaks of the viral disease, experts warn.
To date, there is no cure for Chikungunya, where according to WHO, world health experts “have not found a vaccine to prevent the virus and no specific antiviral drug treatment has been developed.”
Pacific health experts are now worried that Chikungunya could spread throughout the region, citing the French Polynesia outbreak in 2014 where 14 people have died from the virus, so far.
New Caledonia reported the first ever case, in the Pacific, three years ago; and since the outbreak in French Polynesia late last year, there have been about 55, 000 patient consultations made for Chikungunya.
There has been an increase in cases in Samoa, and notably, much of the new cases detected in New Caledonia were “imported from French Polynesia.”
According to Dr Adman Roth, an epidemiologist with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, there are most probably more people with the disease in French Polynesia, who have not sought medical treatment.
WHO had issued a health warning, predicting that the mosquito-borne virus could spread faster than once thought; and could sweep through the Pacific, island hoping for the next one or two years.
Health experts are concerned that Pacific nations that have not reported any cases of Chikungunya, like Papua New Guinea, were at great risk of an outbreak.
“I think all of the islands would be at risk of importing cases from these outbreaks, not only from French Polynesia and Samoa, but also from other part of the world,” said Dr Roth.