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Published On: Tue, Dec 10th, 2013

Chikungunya makes first appearance in the Caribbean, St. Martins confirms two cases

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that as of November 2013, geographic range of chikungunya virus is been seen in 49 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia.

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

However, for what appears to be the first time, the mosquito borne viral disease has been confirmed in the Western Hemisphere, the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean to be specific.

According to a report in The Daily Herald, two cases of Chikungunya have been confirmed in St. Martin following testing at the specialist laboratory in Marseille that returned positive results to Agence Régional de Santé (ARS) on December 5.

The two confirmed cases originated in French Quarter. In addition, there are currently four “probable” cases and 30 “suspected” cases, 15 of which are in the Oyster Pond area, the report notes.

“Chikungunya is in the Pacific islands, in Asia, in India, but never until now in the Caribbean islands,” noted epidemiologist Marion Petit-Sinturel. “It’s the first time we have had a located transmission here in St. Martin.”

The experts at the website, ProMed Mail note:

“The occurrence of a chikungunya epidemic in the Caribbean area is of concern, but perhaps not surprising. The tropical Americas, including Caribbean Islands, harbor abundant populations of the chikungunya virus mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti.

mosquito

Photo/CDC-James Gathany

“This virus has been introduced in various areas of the world by viremic travelers into localities where the vector is present, with initiation of ongoing transmission. It seems that it has just been a matter of time until an outbreak occurs in the Americas.”

St. Martin is already battling a dengue fever epidemic. The Daily Herald reports on the French side, since the start of the epidemic (week 2013-2 to 2013-44), there have been 3,000 suspected cases, 1,074 probable or confirmed cases, 38 hospitalized cases and one death. The predominant serotype is DENV-4.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) Fact Sheet, Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain.Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

There is no cure for the disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

The proximity of mosquito breeding sites to human habitation is a significant risk factor for chikungunya.

The disease occurs in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. In recent decades mosquito vectors of chikungunya have spread to Europe and the Americas. In 2007, disease transmission was reported for the first time in Europe, in a localized outbreak in north-eastern Italy.

The CDC notes there is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. People can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

 

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Chikungunya map Image/CDC

Chikungunya map
Image/CDC

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He regularly writes about infectious disease news for Examiner.com and administers the Outbreak News section of The Global Dispatch.

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  1. […] eight months after the first autochthonous, or locally acquired chikungunya cases were reported for the first time in the Western Hemisphere on the island of St. Martin, the total number of imported cases has eclipsed a half million cases, according to new data […]

  2. […] virus, which made it’s presence known in the Western hemisphere with the first autochthonous cases in early December on the French side of St. Martin in the Caribbean, has […]

  3. […] made it presence known in the Caribbean in early December with the first two “locally acquired” cases in St. Martin. It has exploded throughout […]

  4. […] In early December, the first “locally acquired” infections of chikungunya were confirmed and reported on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin. […]

  5. […] mosquito borne viral disease made it’s first appearance in the western hemisphere as a locally acquired infection in Decemb…on the island of Saint Martin […]

  6. […] Since the chikungunya virus first made it’s appearance in the Western Hemisphere in early December on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the outbreak has continued to grow and spread throughout many parts of the region showing little […]

  7. […] the chikungunya virus first made it’s appearance in the Western Hemisphere in early December on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the outbreak has continued to grow and spread throughout many parts of the region showing little […]

  8. […] introduction of the first locally acquired chikungunya fever infections began with two cases in Saint Martin in the French Caribbean in early […]

  9. […] introduction of the first locally acquired chikungunya fever infections began with two cases in Saint Martin in the French Caribbean in early […]

  10. […] acquired chikungunya fever were detected in the Americas (the French side of Saint Martin) in early December 2013, the case count has blossomed to 111 confirmed cases, according to a European Centre for […]

  11. […] acquired chikungunya fever were detected in the Americas (the French side of Saint Martin) in early December 2013, the case count has blossomed to 111 confirmed cases, according to a European Centre for Disease […]

  12. […] the recent report of local transmission of Chikungunya virus on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean, the first such cases in the Western Hemisphere, I sought out an expert on the […]

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