Chikungunya Virus swarms the Caribbean

Published On November 10, 2014 | By HN Staff | News

Aedes_Albopictus

Infected Mosquito

By Trevon Marsh
Map By Jordan Burton

A new virus outbreak, known as Chikungunya, has spread in Caribbean, Central and South American countries and shows no signs of slowing down.

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to people by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms of the deadly virus include a fever, joint pain, muscle pain and rashes.

If the virus encounters the elderly or anyone who is inhibited by another sickness, it can ultimately lead to death.

In late 2013, the Chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Caribbean.

The outbreak has caused an estimated 795,000 Chikungunya cases in 37 countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere.

More than 1,600 travelers returning to the United States with Chikungunya have been reported as of Nov. 4, 2014.

With schools coming to a close and the holiday season right around the corner, winter travelers are beginning to book their vacations to the Caribbean for December into early January.

Although people should be warned about the outbreak, numerous travel agencies that were contacted by Humber News are unaware of the virus. Included below is a map showcasing every island that is currently infected by the disease.

The World Health Organization issued a statement saying, “WHO encourages countries to develop and maintain the capacity to detect and confirm cases, manage patients, and implement social communication strategies to reduce the presence of the mosquito vectors.”

“Travelers should think about mosquito repellant primarily for safety,” said Shanoy Coombs, a communications consultant for the United Nations based in Kingston, Jamaica.

“It seems there has been a downwards trend in infections, but that could be because most of the population has already been infected in most islands,” she said.

Coombs also suffered symptoms from the CHIKV Virus.  Below she shares what she went through.

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Shanoy Coombs via Facebook

As of now, there is no vaccine or medicine to prevent the spread of the Chikungunya virus.

However, travelers can protect themselves from mosquito bites when traveling to countries with the outbreak by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and by staying in places with air conditioning. All of which can prevent being bit by mosquitoes.

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