Chikungunya Infections Not Slowing Down In Samoa

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No deaths reported, workforce illnesses impacting economy

By Brenden Kim Quintos

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 10, 2015) – The number of people being infected with Chikungunya is not slowing down.

This is confirmed by the Manager of the Clinical Services of the National Health Services at Moto'otua Leituala Dr Ben Matalavea.

According to Leituala the wet season also contributes to the spread of mosquitoes.

Chikungunya is a virus transmitted to people by mosquitoes. It’s most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Chikungunya virus infection.

He said that half of the cases of Chikungunya are not reported to the Health authorities.

"I’m sure the public has been advised that if you have symptoms of this disease stay at home. If all those people come to the hospital, it clogs up the system.

"You only need to take Paracetamol, unless it is a child. For the rest of the population, those who are experiencing acute fever and rash, they must not immediately assume it is Chikungunya.

"We have to think it might be another of nasty diseases, and Rheumatic fever is one of those diseases."

He added that there are other mosquito borne sicknesses apart from Chinkungunya for example Dengue fever and Filariasis fever as other diseases that can be caught."

He also lamented that although Chikungunya still hasn’t claimed any lives in the country, it can easily affect half of a company’s workforce due to the extreme joint pains a patient experiences.

"The impact of that might not really be health related but economically for the country it’s a real bad thing; the economy can be badly affected because of workers getting sick."

And with the coming in of the Wet season, Leituala reminds the public of the usual air borne viruses like the common flu and water borne sicknesses that might be caught from dirty water supply.

"It’s a common thing that every year with the massive rain, we have water borne problems that can affect the gastrointestinal system, which could lead to diarrhea and vomiting."

"If you have a contaminated water supply you can easily have an outbreak of typhoid fever."

To avoid such sicknesses, he asks the public to wash their hands before eating and to boil water for it to be safe for drinking."

Leituala also added that it’s not just infectious diseases that the country is facing now but "we still have this burden of non communicable diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure," such diseases he said could be made worse during cyclones and other natural diseases.

Hence, he reminds the public to make sure that they have enough supply of their medications and supplies while there is no cyclone yet.

"And please if a disaster arrives, it's not something to go and sight see, make sure that your family and children are safe and that you have a good supply of medications and food."

"We have survived cyclones and natural disasters for hundreds of years and I’m not thinking that we might not survive another cyclone, it’s just a matter of applying our common sense and applying safety measures."

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