BELIZE CITY–The Ministry of Health announced today that it has confirmed three positive antibody tests via the Central Medical Lab in Belize City for Chikungunya from samples collected early last week during their investigation of a suspected case of Chikungunya from the Las Flores community.
“These three positive IgM samples along with another sample will be sent next week Monday for further testing and confirmation by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Laboratory in Trinidad,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry has had trouble trying to determine whether a Salvadoran woman who had been clinically diagnosed with Chikungunya, or Chik-V, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitos, in her home country more than a month ago had actually contracted the virus, due to inconclusive test results overseas.
No laboratory tests were done on her in Salvador. Earlier this month, her blood sample was tested at the Central Medical Lab in Belize City, then sent for further testing to the Caribbean Public Health Authority (CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago and then onward to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Head of the Epidemiology Unit in Belize, told Amandala today that the CDC has indicated that the lab sample was not of good-enough quality to do any further testing.
Manzanero said that they will attempt to extract another sample for testing at CARPHA, but first, they have to determine whether CARPHA has the ability to conduct PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, which should give them a closer look at the sample to more accurately determine whether the patient has traces of the viral DNA.
If CARPHA can do the test, those samples would be drawn on Monday, Manzanero said. However, if this fails, then the case would remain indeterminate, he explained.
As we reported last week, three of the four prior suspected cases of Chikungunya, which exclude the tests now being sent to CARPHA for testing, actually turned out to be dengue, although one woman was clinically diagnosed in El Salvador with Chikungunya and another received a positive result from a rapid test done at a lab in Belmopan.
The fourth case remains open, as the Ministry of Health continues to investigate the emergence of a possible index case in that community.