Image copyright Guyana Daily Chronicle Image caption There is no known cure for the deadly epidemic that has now infected more than 1.4 million people
A public health agency in Guyana has warned of the “bizarre” way it is now combating the spread of the chikungunya virus.
Unlike in most other outbreaks, authorities are recommending that people continue to be bitten by mosquitoes.
Four people in Guyana have already died from the virus – and the death toll is expected to rise, says the health ministry.
This comes just days after one of the World Health Organisation’s consultants warned about poor public health practices.
In the south American country, the Ministry of Health has asked its people to continue to draw blood and drink from containers, because the virus cannot be easily transmitted from person to person.
Antibiotics and antimalarial medications are available. But the ministry says it is not necessary for people to take any of them.
In a statement, the ministry explained that people would have to get into their cars and travel to different parts of the country.
People must move even if they are ill to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, the statement added.
The ministry in Guyana said that all these efforts were designed to eventually kill off the mosquitoes that carry the disease, while the international community work on an effective and efficient means of prevention.
In an interview with the world’s largest medical journal, the Lancet, WHO public health consultant, Dr Zoe Smith, said the “nationwide approach” to tackling chikungunya had failed in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean has been hardest hit by the disease.
In Guyana, health authorities believe more than 1.4 million people have been infected, but more than 11,000 have died.
The consequences for the country are far worse than the consequences in the Caribbean, Dr Smith said.
Chikungunya is transmitted to people through mosquitoes – not humans through blood transfusions, it is believed.
Guyana’s health minister, Dr Volda Lawrence, said the virus was now “beyond control” and that the national public health and medical teams were not equipped to deal with the crisis.
“The countries facing chikungunya are waking up to the reality that they have to treat chikungunya as a pandemic,” she told the Guardian newspaper in an interview.
The WHO did not reply to a request for comment.