This Gleaner’s online headline yesterday caught my eye; stories about ChikV tend to.
The article was about a study recently published in Neurology Journal, which looked at a particular aspect of “Chikungunya virus (CHIKV)–associated CNS [Central Nervous System] disease during the La Réunion outbreak, and assess[ed] the disease burden and patient outcome after 3 years.”
I would obviously want someone with the appropriate medical/scientific expertise to explain the relevance of this study to us in post-ChikV epidemic Jamaica.
Two statements particularly interested me, one from the Gleaner article & the other from the Neurology Journal abstract:
- “…the infected persons with encephalitis had persisting disabilities. The disabilities included behavioral changes and problems with thinking and memory skills in infants and post-infectious dementia in previously healthy adults.” (Gleaner)
- “In the context of a large outbreak, CHIKV is a significant cause of CNS disease.” (Neurology Journal)
Like hundreds of thousands of other Jamaicans, I had ChikV last year and know of many relatives, friends and acquaintances who also had the disease, with varying levels of severity. I had had dengue the previous year and was struck by the fact that the effects of ChikV lasted far beyond the acute phase, whereas I recovered from dengue relatively quickly. I also learned, mainly via online sources, of the medium and long term effects that ChikV can have, something which the Ministry of Health (MOH) seemed to downplay at the start.
I wanted to find out whether there was ongoing or planned tracking of medium and long term effects of ChikV being experienced by people in Jamaica following the 2014 epidemic. So on April 18 this year, I made an Access to Information (ATI) request to the Ministry of Health and on May 14 received 11 documents from the Ministry.
The related documents ranged from Notes of Research Meeting held on Chikungunya November 20, 2014 at PAHO Building , UWI to notes of Chikungunya Research Working Group Meeting Held at PAHO Building dated 29 April 2015. All the documents can be accessed here. (MOH ATI all chikv)
It is time, perhaps, for me to do some follow-up ATI requests, to see what has taken place in the intervening 7 months.
But the real request is for the MOH and the various other local and regional bodies to track, to do research and to keep us informed. ChikV is here to stay, we are told, and we need to know as much as possible about its effects and how they can be prevented and treated.