Published On: Sun, Dec 29th, 2013

Chikungunya outbreak in the Caribbean grows to 71 confirmed cases

Following reports of the emergence of the chikungunya virus in the Western Hemisphere earlier this month when two locally acquired cases were confirmed on the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin, the beginning of the epidemic was declared on that day and has grown significantly since.

Aedes aegypti  Image/CDC

Aedes aegypti Image/CDC

Updated numbers were recently released in an epidemiology report by The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance (computer translated) that shows the outbreak to have increased significantly  and spread to other islands.

According to the report, on the island of Saint Martin, there has been 66 confirmed chikungunya cases since the beginning of the outbreak.

In addition, The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance notes that there are 14 probable and 167 suspected cases on the island. At least two people required hospitalization for their illness.

LISTEN: Chikungunya in the Western Hemisphere: An interview with a CDC expert

According to the report, the geographic distribution of confirmed, probable or suspected shows that the virus is spreading in areas already affected and that cases are reported in new neighborhoods of Saint Martin. Besides the already identified areas of Oyster Pound, Sandy Ground and Orléans Ward, but now cases have emerged in
Marigot Marigot and  also in the north of the island Grand Case and Cul de sac.

The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance says, by definition, a clinically suspected case is defined by (translated):

  • A person with fever > 38.5 ° C sudden onset ET joint pain in the extremities first the clinical picture AND in the absence of other causative orientation.
  • A probable case is a suspected case as defined above and having Chikungunya IgM positive or limits
  • A confirmed case is a suspected case with a virological endpoints or serological following :
  1. Virus isolation ;
  2. OR Demonstration of viral genome by RT -PCR ;
  3. OR recent Seroconversion or 4-fold increase under the IgG on two sera taken two weeks minimum interval
  4. OR Highlighting specific antibodies by chikungunya neutralization on limits or IgM positive

In addition to Saint Martin, three chikungunya virus infections were confirmed in Martinique. There are also 27 suspected cases.

In Guadeloupe, a case was laboratory confirmed on December 24, 2013, The epidemiological surveillance system has detected 21 suspected cases.

Saint Barthelemy map/CIA

Saint Barthelemy map/CIA

On St. Barthélemy there is 11 suspected cases and Guyana is reporting one confirmed case.

In addition to these, one case has been confirmed on the Dutch side of St. Martin.

The French Institute for Public Health Surveillance notes that the current rainy season and the increase trade between the territories during the holiday season are conducive to the spread of virus.

Accordingly, early efforts to case detection, monitoring and actions vector control must be at their maximum level to decrease the risk of epidemics.

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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 is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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