Four new local chikungunya cases reported

Four new cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus have been contracted locally, bringing the number of locally transmitted cases to 10, health officials advised Wednesday. 

According to the latest release from Cayman’s Public Health Department, a total of 34 local and imported cases of the debilitating virus have been confirmed. 

Twenty-one blood samples from suspected cases were sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency laboratory in Trinidad last week. Of those, two from George Town residents and two from Bodden Town, with no travel history, tested positive for chikungunya. The four people began showing symptoms late last month, officials said. Prior to this, the last reported locally transmitted case involved a George Town resident who started showing symptoms on Oct. 21.  

“The Public Health Department, in collaboration with other agencies such as MRCU [Mosquito Research and Control Unit], continue surveillance efforts for the identification of locally acquired cases,” said Dr. Kiran Kumar, medical officer of health.  

“With about six positive cases of local transmission in October, along with nine suspected cases in the previous week, [the information] suggests that unless the public protect themselves from mosquito bites and take measures against mosquito breeding, especially after the recent rains, we can have more cases,” said Dr. Kumar. 

Sixteen new potential cases in Cayman were being investigated during the week of Nov. 4 to 10. Seven of the suspected cases were people who had traveled to Jamaica, where a chikungunya outbreak is reportedly rampant. Nine had no travel history. 

Since June 25, when the virus was first reported, health officials have investigated 125 cases of chikungunya in the Cayman Islands. 

The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is a daytime mosquito mostly seen in early mornings and early evenings. Health officials are advising the public to take protective measures against mosquito bites. Chikungunya causes fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.  

To date, cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in 36 countries/territories in the Caribbean region. The total number of confirmed or probable cases in the region is 16,280.