As you may be aware, there has been an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in Barbados and the Caribbean.
The Barbados Ministry of Health has taken several steps to address the spread of the virus, but here are some ways to help protect yourself:
- Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR3535. Repellent can be purchased at local supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores.
- Use mosquito nets in hotels and other accommodation.
- Burn mosquito coils or candles. Remember to extinguish all candles when leaving the premises or going to sleep.
- Spray rooms with insecticide.
- Set the air-conditioner to a lower temperature at night.
- Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors or in areas prone to mosquitoes, particularly around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
The Ministry of Health is carrying out regular island-wide fogging, increasing inspections and stocking water settlement areas with fish. Hotel staff have been specially trained in areas of mosquito control, inspection and monitoring, and chemical and biological control.
Symptoms of chikungunya include a sudden high fever, headache, rash, nausea and joint pain. Symptoms usually begin 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
These symptoms usually pass within a few days, however joint pain, especially in the wrists, knuckles and ankles, can last for several weeks or months.
There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for chikungunya. To relieve symptoms take Paracetamol and ibuprofen (aspirin should be avoided), drink fluids, and get lots of rest.