Chikungunya in Cuba

Chikungunya reaches South America

Chikungunya reaches South America
February 26, 2014

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Communicable Disease Threats Report for week 8 was released Feb. 24. It confirmed the worst fears of public health officials when it reported that mosquito transmitted chikungunya illnesses were now being locally acquired in French Guyana. French Guyana is an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of continental South America, between Brazil and Suriname. Two of the seven chikungunya cases reported by authorities there were locally acquired.

The actual case numbers have not grown as much as in previous weeks. ECDC figures through Feb. 21 show an additional 293 illnesses. The hardest hit French-speaking islands, St. Martin, Martinique and St. Barts, are no longer testing every probable chikungunya patients. The English speaking islands are affected by delays with specimens having to be sent to Trinidad for testing. St. Kitts and Nevis reported one case, their first, and that was the only new island to report chikungunya illnesses in the week.

The Pan American Health Organization is the regional public health agency. Through Feb. 21, it is reporting a total of 2,238 chikungunya cases in a regional population of about 44 million people. The incidence rate for the illness is 5.1 cases per 100,000 of population. No cases have yet been reported from the largest islands in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba. The locally acquired cases of chikungunya remain confined to the eastern Caribbean, and to the French Antilles in particular.

ECDC released a report on Feb. 21 titled “Epidemiological update: autochthonous cases of chikungunya fever in the Caribbean region and South America.” It examined the number of suspected cases of chikungunya in the region. Over 5,900 cases are suspected, nearly triple the number of confirmed and probable cases.

Chikungunya in the Caribbean is being transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito species. This mosquito, also known as the yellow fever mosquito, also carries all four forms of the dengue fever virus which is endemic in the region. This mosquito species ranges into the southeastern United States, generally south of the Ohio River and from east Texas to the Atlantic coast. Experts believe that the United States will see locally acquired chikungunya illnesses in the next 12 to 24 months.

Source: Chikungunya reaches South America – National Healthcare | Examiner.com – http://www.examiner.com/article/chikungunya-reaches-south-america

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