Delmarva Native Working to Stop Spread of Mosquito-Borne Virus - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Delmarva Native Working to Stop Spread of Mosquito-Borne Virus

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JAMAICA - Kevin Gebhart is from Bishopville, Md and also is the executive director of the Blue Mountain Project in Jamaica which assists rural communities and provides medical care.  Gebhart tells WBOC his organization is working to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus to his community and to the United States.

Gebhart spoke with WBOC on Thursday via Skype from Jamaica about how big of a problem the virus is becoming there.

"The situation is becoming incredibly serious here locally.  The actual number from the Jamaican government is that there are 31 cases of the chikungunya disease locally but at our work yesterday at the Parish headquarters, the unofficial number is closer to 25 thousand and it is quickly working its way to our community."

Gebhart said the goal is to try and protect his communities from this rapidly spreading illness but also keep it, as much as possible, from getting out of the Caribbean and being seen on a bigger scale in the United States.  There have already been two cases in Delaware and Gebhart believes we could see more in the U.S. and on Delmarva.

"Oh I certainly believe it is something we could see on Delmarva in the near future.  There are daily flights from every Caribbean country to the United States and it may not be able to spread in our northern climate but I think it is highly likely we will be seeing patients in the Northern US who are bringing this back."

The virus causes flu like symptoms along with a rash and the possibility for severe arthritic pain, especially in people with pre-existing conditions.  Gebhart says his group's efforts are tireless but they do need assistance in order to keep working for the Jamaican communities.  Gebhart added it takes about $8,000 for the Blue Mountain Project to be successful.  Anyone interested in learning more about the project or interested in making a donation can visit http://www.bluemountainproject.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainprojectjamaica
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