According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website, on December 12, the World Health Organization reported 10 cases of chikungunya that have been identified in people who live on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. This is the first time that local transmission of chikungunya has been reported in the Americas.
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
Roger S. Nasci, chief of the Arboviral Diseases Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the CDC, discusses Chikungunya virus in this radio interview:
Travelers to St. Martin, Africa, Asia, and some islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific are at risk, as the virus is spread in many of these areas. The mosquito that carries chikungunya virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.
“Microbes know no boundaries, and the appearance of chikungunya virus in the Western Hemisphere represents another threat to health security,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement. “CDC experts have predicted and prepared for its arrival for several years and there are surveillance systems in place to help us track it. To protect Americans, we have to support and maintain capacity to detect and respond to the emergence of new viruses.”
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