The Chikungunya virus is transmitted to children through mosquito bites. The virus is spread when mosquitoes become infected after feeding on a person already infected, then bites another person.
Director of the Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry of Health Dr Marion Bullock-DuCasse is therefore encouraging school administrators to continue efforts of ensuring that mosquito-breeding sites are removed from school grounds.
“The recent rainfall may have provided opportunities for mosquitoes to breed. It is therefore important for school administrators to take the time to ensure that anything that can collect water is removed from school grounds. This will significantly reduce mosquito breeding and therefore the spread of Chikungunya,” she said.
The virus is transmitted through the Aedes aegypti mosquito which mostly bites in the daytime and is generally found in and around places where people gather, including schools.
There is no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to specifically treat the Chikungunya virus.
According to the health ministry, symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include fever, severe headaches, chills, nausea and vomiting, severe pain in the joints, diarrhoea and a rash.
Most children feel better within a week. In some children, the joint pain may persist for months. Symptoms of Chikungunya are similar to those of dengue fever, and so it is important that if your child shows any of the signs he is properly diagnosed by a paediatrician.
If a child has indeed been diagnosed with Chikungunya, pull him out of school and let him get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration and take the medicines prescribed by the doctor.