Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, is urging doctors to ensure that they rule out conditions such as dengue, influenza, leptospirosis and other similar illnesses, before diagnosing patients as having Chikungunya or Chik-V.
His call follows reports that Chik-V cases are being under-reported due to a lack of testing.
Dr. Ferguson says it’s usual to see an increase in cases of influenza and dengue symptoms at this time of the year.
He says those symptoms are similar to Chik-V.
Dr. Ferguson says it’s important that doctors rule out dengue and other illnesses with similar symptoms, before concluding that a patient has Chik-V.
This, so that the Ministry can have a true picture of the viruses that are circulating.
Dr. Ferguson also emphasized that there’s no need to wait for laboratory confirmations of Chik-V to begin treatment.
There are reports that a number of persons who’ve exhibited the symptoms of Chik V were told by their doctors that they indeed had the virus.
They were reportedly advised to take paracetamol for the pain and drink plenty of fluids.
The Health Minister says those treatments are standard and should be adhered to by the infected person.
President of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr. Shane Alexis, says doctors must report Chik V cases to the health authority to present a true reflection of the number of persons infected.
Dr. Alexis says the MAJ had informed its members from as early as May this year about how they should handle suspected cases of Chik V.
Minister Ferguson says the Ministry does not require laboratory testing of every single person with symptoms of Chik-V.
But, Dr. Alexis says the onus also lies with the Health Ministry to be in constant dialogue with private and public health institutions to ensure that their Chik V numbers are accurate.
Up to the week ending September 6, the Ministry reviewed 225 possible cases of which 120 met the case definition which means that they had the appropriate symptoms and have been deemed suspected cases of chikungunya.