Via WLRN.org: Why Chikungunya – And The Mosquitoes – Are Overwhelming Haiti. Excerpt:
Haiti has been ground zero, recording more than 47,000 cases. In the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the situation is just as bad if not worse.
But containing chikungunya in Haiti presents more difficult obstacles. As Lindor’s case indicates, public information is one of the most urgent. Poncelet says he and groups like PAHO are working to fix that.
“Mostly [we’re doing it] through radio messages, television and [also] through community workers to inform the population as widely as possible,” says Poncelet.
Even so, Haitians like Vladimir St. Jean say Haiti is still too far behind the epidemic. And St. Jean has a certain credibility: He’s both a doctor and a patient who himself contracted chikungunya this year.
St. Jean, who has also recovered, says one of the biggest problems is that there simply aren’t enough resources in Haiti to test every suspected case.
“Public hospitals are treating patients just based on symptoms,” he says.
The most common of those are severe fever, joint and muscle pain and a rash. Chikungunya usually isn’t fatal, but officials have confirmed more than 20 deaths in the Caribbean related to the disease. Infants and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
St. Jean and his colleagues in Port-au-Prince recently tried to form a medical group to get better and faster help to infected communities.
“But unfortunately,” he says, “we couldn’t move forward because we didn’t have enough money. We asked for help from Haitian health officials, and they didn’t come through.”