The Ministry of Health has announced that as many as 670,000 Colombians could be infected with the virus within the next four months.
This announcement follows the first four confirmed chikungunya cases in Colombia’s north.
The Deputy Minister of Health and Service, Fernando Ruiz Gómez, explained that the country is facing a particular outbreak of an “explosive nature” that is probably already present in different municipalities of Bolivar in the North.
There are 888 municipalities that are below 2,200 meters above sea level. This means that 26 million Colombians are susceptible to the virus but the Deputy Minister remained positive. “We can handle this epidemic and have resources available to do so with $3.2 million available to combat the virus.”
“The Ministry has a contingency plan for four months, in which the main objective is to have the best care for those affected and has everything in order for controlling the epidemic situation and guide clinical care, including guidelines,” said Ruiz.
The Ministry made a call to the community to be vigilant for the warning signs and to consult a doctor immediately. They reminded the public that chikungunya is not lethal – the virus lasts about two weeks and the treatment is anti-inflammatory and analgesic.
This comes after the first case of chikungunya was reported in Colombia last month with a woman traveling from the Dominican Republic.
Chikungunya, meaning “to bend up” in reference to the joint pain the virus causes, was originally transmitted to humans in southern Tanzania in 1952.
The virus transmitted by mosquitoes and symptoms similar to that of dengue fever, such as fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches, nausea, lethargy and hives. Despite the symptoms, the World Health Organization claims that the virus is rarely ever fatal, although symptoms can last for years in some cases.
The virus is most often found in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent and southeast Asia, while cases in the Americas have been few and far between.
- Confirmados primeros cuatro casos de chikunguña en Bolívar (Ministerio de Salud)
- “El virus de chikunguña tendrá un efecto expansivo” Viceministro de Salud Pública y Prestación de Servicios (Ministerio de Salud)