The Haitian epidemic of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus continues to terrorize the country after another recent outbreak this past year. While it is uncommon for the Caribbean and Central American countries, the disease was introduced by an ill passenger on a nearby island a few months ago.
Thankfully, the virus is rarely deadly, but is excruciatingly painful. While it is unlikely that the virus could have been prevented, the lack of Haitian infrastructure has exacerbated the problem. With very little mosquito control, inadequate healthcare and widespread poverty, the number of people receiving treatment is divided among economic and social barriers.
Since the introduction of the virus in May, Haitian statistics estimate that 40,000 people have contracted the virus. This might be an underestimate of the actual number of patients, since many do not receive healthcare. The treatment of chikungunya virus has been uneven throughout the country and many of the poorer citizens are unable to afford and access treatment.
At one of the rural clinics, all of the pain medication was received in less than two days. Because the demand for pain-reducing medicines has increased, so has the price. With prices now elevated, many of the poorer Haitians are opting to just stay at home and endure the pain of the virus.
Among the villagers is a large degree of skepticism that mosquitoes carry the virus. Few houses use treated mosquito nets and even fewer homes are fumigated. Because of the inadequacies of the Haitian government, citizens are doubting that mosquitoes carry the disease because the government is doing little to stop the mosquitoes.
In the crowded quarters of the Haitian shantytowns, because of standing water, even more cases are being seen, though few are being treated. Because of the vector of transmission, the chikungunya threatens to expand into other neighboring nations. With help from the United States Center for Disease Control, measures are being taken to help Haitians and prevent a greater spread of disease, though cases have already begun appearing in other countries.
– Kristin Ronzi
Sources: Central Daily Times, Guardian Liberty Voice
Photo: The Epoch Times