The Ministry of Health and Medical Services advises the general public to focus efforts on reducing the risks of Chikungunya circulation in Fiji. This is after it received laboratory confirmation of an imported case of Chikungunya virus disease last week.
Chikungunya virus disease evolved and has progressively circulated amongst neighboring Pacific Island countries in the since 2014 .
As Fiji’s population is naïve to previous exposure to the Chikungunya virus , there is the likelihood of an explosive outbreak should the disease reach our shores.
The Ministry has been monitoring the Chikungunya situation in the region very closely in collaboration with WHO (World Health Organisation) and SPC (Secretariat of the Pacific Community). In addition it is also spearheading Chikungunya mitigation activities countrywide in efforts to reduce the risks of establishing the disease in Fiji.
Chikungunya virus disease is caused by the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). The Dengue and Chikungunya viruses are spread by the same mosquito vector. CHIKV is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected individual and then discharges the virus in the bloodstream of a well individual during its next blood feed.
The symptoms of Chinkungunya virus disease, begins 3 – 7 days after being bitten by infected mosquitoes and, includes high fever, joint pains with swelling and stiffness, headache, muscles pains, fatigue and rash on the trunk and limbs. Most will recover within a week, although joint pains may persist for months or years in some cases.
Although the disease is rarely fatal, the socioeconomic burden that comes with massive numbers missing work and school as a result of the disease is immense, as experienced in other Pacific Island countries that are currently dealing with the epidemic.
Prevention of CHIKV infection basically involves reducing the mosquito density to levels that will prevent disease transmission, and also protecting oneself from mosquito bites.
To reduce the mosquito density levels in the community, the Ministry encourages all individuals, government sectors and corporate entities in Fiji to work cohesively with the Ministry of Health in destroying mosquito breeding grounds via frequent organized cleanup campaigns.
To prevent mosquito bites, the use of mosquito repellents, mosquito nets and mosquito screens in windows and doors is recommended.
With the confirmation of an imported case, the Ministry advises members of the public to be more vigilant of the disease and its manifestations and to present to the nearest health facility should they experience signs and symptoms
The Ministry will scale-up other components of its national mosquito vector control program and its disease surveillance activities in concerted efforts to prevent establishment and internal circulation of CHIKV in Fiji.