More than one hundred residents of barangay San Ramon of Rapu-rapu municipality suffers from chikungunya fever. The barangay, located in the almost isolated island of Batan in Albay province, has been reported infected with mosquito-borne disease known to have started to spread in the area in July.
The fever brought about by the infection is similar to dengue without the accompanying bleeding. The chikungunya symptoms starts two to four days after the bite by a carrier mosquito. An infected patient was observed with an immediate onset of off and on fever, joint, muscle and body pains, red skin rushes, conjunctivitis and body weakness.
Like many rural areas in the country, the infected locality has no immediate access to health care. In the case of Batan, patients has to travel by boat between three to four hours to see a medical doctor or get to a hospital on the Bicol mainland.
While the outbreak of chikungunya was reported in July, it was only last week that a medical team of doctors, nurses and health personnel was dispatched by the regional office of the Department of Health to San Ramon. Its epidemiology surveillance team was tasked to gather laboratory samples. The occurrence was downgraded later to 83 cases.
The Center for Health Development regional director Gloria Balboa expressed the importance to give immediate medical attention to residents afflicted although it is considered not as fatal as dengue.
According to the World Health Organization, the disease was first reported to have occured in 1952 in Makonde tribe of Newala district of Tanzania, east Africa. Chikungunya means “that which bends” meaning the stooping posture of an afflicted patient.
(With reports from the PNA, Interaksyon and added information from Wikipedia and WHO.)