Virus Crossing Oceans: Chikungunya In The Americas

Tobi Skotnes | The Disease Daily | September 29, 2014

While countries in Africa are battling the current Ebola outbreak, the Western Hemisphere is battling a chikungunya outbreak that has reached record numbers: 700,000 suspected cases in over 34 countries.[i] The current case counts in the seven countries with the most cases are:

El Salvador: 30,000 cases[ii]
Venezuela: 398[iii]
Colombia: 1600 cases[iv]
Dominican Republic: 500,000 cases[v]
Puerto Rico: 2022 cases
French Guinea: 2656 cases
San Martin Island: 1515 cases

Chikungunya is a viral disease spread by mosquitoes with symptoms similar to those of dengue: fever, severe joint pain, rash and fatigue.  The disease was nonexistent in the Americas until December 2013, when France confirmed two autochthonous cases of chikungunya in the French part of San Martin Island.  Within 15 days, there were 50 cases on the island and by January 2015, the disease had spread to four other neighboring islands (Guadeloupe, Saint Barthelemy, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands).[vi] Since then, the prevalence of the disease has increased and spread to over 700,000 people in 34 countries.  The appeal of the Caribbean as a vacation destination for many individuals enabled the disease to spread quickly to North, South and Central America.  When an infected individual returns home, local mosquitoes can transmit the disease from that person to unaffected individuals...