Nicaraguan Red Cross unites in a fight against Chikungunya

Published: 8 August 2014 18:06 CET

By Lissett Guido, Nicaraguan Red Cross

As of 27 June, 2014, the Nicaraguan Government decreed a Health Alert throughout the national territory as a preventive measure against possible outbreaks of the Chikungunya virus.

Currently, there are no records of any confirmed cases of the Chikungunya virus. The Ministry of Health in coordination with community structures have held frequent conferences on prevention such as spraying, abatement, awareness and intensification of health activities at the national level.

Since the declaration of a health alert after the increase in rainfall, the Nicaraguan Red Cross has active volunteers and technicians in the affiliates of Leon and Somoto to support Ministry of Health actions such as house spraying and delivery of printed material with information about Chikungunya and Dengue and how to prevent these diseases.

Chikungunya is a disease that spreads by the bite of infected mosquitoes; Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, present in America. It is characterized by intense fever, and is accompanied by severe pain in the joints. Symptoms can arise three to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Unlike Dengue, Chikungunya cases can affect joints for one to two years.

Recognizing that prevention and early detection are the best weapons, the Red Cross has been offering advice to communities. “It is advisable to remove from your backyard tyres, jars, cans, old barrels, bottles, buckets, old shoes, covers of old refrigerators, all rubbish or containers that does not serve a purpose since they are perfect breeding grounds of mosquitoes responsible for the transmission of the disease,” said Rommel Calero, Assistant of the National Health at the society.

The Red Cross team continues to monitor the situation as well as helping with clean-ups and fumigation with the Ministry of Health, who have given ten thermal nebulizer to carry out this activity from house to house. “We have also given educational talks to health staff to disseminate the essential information for the prevention of Chikungunya. These talks are also carried out by our own volunteers. It is important that the Red Cross gives the best example possible, and that is why we have also fumigated and cleaned our own facilitates,” added Marcio Ocon, President of Nicaraguan Red Cross of the Leon affiliate.

One of the key activities by the Red Cross and its national health response teams and epidemic control methodology is participatory transformation to health, hygiene and sanitation, which according to Armando Morales Umanzo, Director of the Nicaraguan Red Cross Somot Branch, allows the society to empower the community with the purpose of reducing the number of cases and the spread of the disease. “In our experience with Dengue it is essential to eliminate the breeding sites of mosquitoes that transmit these diseases. With these activities, we have seen a reduction in cases of Dengue. This way we can also contribute to the prevention of dengue.”