343 Cases Of Chikungunya Fever Confirmed In Am. Samoa

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6 hospitalizations, no deaths reported from outbreak

By Joyetter Feagaimaalii-Luamanu

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, August 5, 2014) – It’s official, the American Samoa Department of Health and the LBJ hospital have confirmed that Chikungunya "Chik" fever is the cause of the outbreak on Tutuila with symptoms of fever, rash and joint pains. According to the Health Alert issued yesterday morning, there have been 343 recorded cases with six patients hospitalized and no deaths as of July 1, 2014.

According to the alert, if you develop "fever, body aches— with or without rash— check with a nurse or doctor and apply ice packs to your painful joints. Get as much rest as possible, it says.

"Stay indoors in air-con, behind screens or under bed nets while you are ill, because if you get bitten by mosquitoes while you are ill they will spread the disease to your family and neighbors."

For travelers, the DOH urges those who are ill not to travel off island, including to Manu’a. "If you travel and become ill when you arrive, tell the doctor who sees you that you may have been exposed to the Chik virus."

According to the health alert, only the "Aedes mosquito spreads the Chix virus", and all aides mosquitoes breed in places such as uncovered rain barrels, buckets, junk tires," and discarded appliances such as "refrigerators, washing machines, boats, equipment and plastic tapes."

DOH urges the public to prevent your family from getting the Chik virus by covering rain barrels with a screen or cloth and eliminating these other items where mosquitoes breed within 100 yards of your home. Also, wear long pants, socks, long sleeve shirts when going outdoors, and use mosquito repellant.

Samoa News reported last week there was one case of Chik virus that had been clinically diagnosed.

To date it’s unclear if a death mentioned in earlier health alerts was from the Chik virus and questions sent to DOH Director Motusa Tuileama Nua on this particular issue were not answered as of press time.

SANITOA CALLS ON DPW TO CLEAR DRAINAGE AREAS

In the meantime, Tualauta faipule Larry Sanitoa pointed out that due to the spread of the virus by mosquitoes in the territory, he’s calling on Department of Public Works regarding the need for the vacuum truck crew to clean certain locations where debris and water are backed up.

He pointed out that he understands the DPW crew will be busy this week, however, "we do… urgently need your help with the vacuum truck crew at the following locations for cleaning: Drainage at Fagaima road in Fagaima; Ottoville Lake by the LDS church; Hope House drainage; Tradewinds drainage by the State Department Housing near John Suisala's home; Two drainage areas on the Happy Valley Road going toward the Baptist School and Pavaiai Rd. drainage by the Elementary School.

Sanitoa notes that his grave concern is the recent announcement by Department of Health on a possible outbreak of the Chikungunya virus. "DPW assistance in cleaning these problem drainage areas is most favorable for the community and will be greatly appreciated."

In addition, over the past weekend several residents have been constantly calling requesting help from a backhoe or crater to help with their roads, he said.

Sanitoa said, "I will be doing site visits throughout the district today so will let you know if there are other roads where we will need your help" and thanked DPW for the earliest possible assistance.

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