Chikungunya update with infectious disease journalist, Chuck Simmins
The chikungunya outbreak in the Western Hemisphere, which began with two “locally acquired” cases on the French side of St. Martin in early December 2013, has grown and spread dramatically ever since.
Freelance journalist, Charles Simmins, who has been covering the relatively new outbreak very thoroughly, joined me on today’s airing of Outbreak News This Week Radio Show.
Chuck started out with the latest numbers from the European Centre for Disease Control and the Pan-American Health Organization, which shows a total of 35, 547 confirmed and suspected cases (about 4,100 confirmed).
However, as Simmins points out, most countries are not testing anymore since it is known that chikungunya is already present, and not all the countries are reporting suspected cases.
The discussion went to the newest cases confirmed on the islands of St. Vincent and Antigua. Simmins says, “Not unexpected. The disease is spread by people, not the mosquito.”
Simmins went on to give a very thorough explanation of the two mosquito vectors for this virus, definitely worth a listen. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page .
I asked Simmins to discuss his two very good interviews on the topic. First is one with Dr. Kristy Murray who is conducting a surveillance study at the Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine from April 1 to Oct. 31.
For the next seven months, a child who present at the Texas Children’s Hospital emergency department with a fever and has blood drawn will have additional testing performed on their specimen. Study researchers will test for the presence of antibodies to the West Nile virus, all four of the Dengue viruses and all the serotypes of the chikungunya virus. Murray said that the tests will show if the patient is currently fighting an infection by any of the viruses, or has had such an infection in the past.
More about the interview can be read at Prepping for chikungunya in the United States .
In addition, we discussed an interview he had with Dr. Scott Weaver, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, who in February predicted that locally acquired chikungunya would be seen in the US in the next 1-2 years. More about the interview can be read at Expert predicts chikungunya in U.S. in 12 to 24 months.
Simmins made some of his own predictions. Listen to the interview below.