Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Spread of Chikungunya Causes Alarm in Colombia


BOGOTA – With almost 75,000 confirmed cases since July, the spread of the Chikungunya virus is causing alarm in Colombia, where the government came under criticism Tuesday by a spokesman for the Medical Federation.

“The Chikungunya epidemic caught the government unprepared,” Sergio Isaza told Blu Radio. “Authorities did not implement public education measures and steps to prevent the excessive proliferation of mosquitoes.”

There have been 74,566 recorded cases of the disease in Colombia, the National Health Institute said Monday.

Chikungunya, like dengue fever, is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, skin rashes and joint, head and muscular pains.

Protective steps recommended by the Health Ministry, such as the use of insect repellants, “are individual measures to prevent mosquito bites, but what is missing is plague control, control of the mosquito population,” Isaza said.

Last Friday, the national ombudsman’s office also criticized the Health Ministry’s actions to confront the epidemic.

Deputy Health Minister Fernando Ruiz said Tuesday in an interview with Caracol Radio that containing the spread of the disease is difficult.

“Mosquitoes are present all across the continent and, therefore, a spread of the disease is inevitable,” he said.

The first Chikungunya case in Colombia was detected on July 18 in a 71-year-old woman who arrived in the southwestern city of Cali from the Dominican Republic.

On Sept. 22, an 11-month-old girl became the first mortal victim of the virus in Colombia.


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