By Benjamin Flowers
The Ministry of Health has given an explanation as to why there has been no reported cases of Chikungunya in Belize despite the epidemic reaching over a half million cases within the region.
Kim Bautista, chief operator of the Vector Control Unit in the ministry, attributed low levels of travel between Belize and countries such as Costa Rica and Haiti which have high numbers of reported cases.
“If you look at our interaction, we don’t have that level of locals travelling to those areas,” Bautista said, “and so far there haven’t been any confirmed cases of local infection in any of our immediate neighbouring countries.”
Bautista added that in terms of preparedness, the MOH has been vigilant in capacity building for lab technicians and has acquired test kits from the Centers for disease Control and Prevention which will allow for CHIKV testing to be done in Belize.
“We will still send samples out to CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) to cross check, but we are in the position that if there is a suspected case it can be diagnosed right here on Belize,” Bautista added.
Last week the Pan American Health Organization released a report showing that Chikungunya cases within the region had exceeded a half million. The total count at the release of the report was 513,393, with the majority of the cases being found in the Dominican Republic.
Six more people were also recorded to have died from the sickness, bringing the total number of CHIKV related deaths to 32 within the region.