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February 2014    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 40, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Chikungunya-Carrying Mosquitoes in the Caribbean

from the February, 2014 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

What began with just 10 confirmed cases of the chikungunya virus on the French side of St. Martin last month has quickly spiraled into a much larger outbreak, with nearly 300 confirmed cases spanning the Caribbean, from Martinique to the British Virgin Islands. Symptoms of chikungunya include fever, joint and muscle pain, headache and rash -- all of which last for about a week, and begin between four and seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. In rare cases, some patients experience long-term joint pain.

With more than 200 "probable or confirmed cases," St. Martin remains the epicenter of the outbreak, though there have been cases on Dominica, Martinique, Saint Barts, and Guadeloupe. Affected St. Martin residents had not traveled abroad recently, suggesting that the chikungunya virus was present in island populations of mosquitoes, and being spread locally.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that while there is no vaccine and no specific treatment for the infection, chikungunya is rarely fatal. It is similar to the more common dengue virus, which has historically been a much bigger problem in the Caribbean. CDC advises anyone returning from the Caribbean with the symptoms above to seek immediate medical assistance.

-- from an article by Mark Johansen, International Business Times

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