Friday, June 20, 2014

Chikungunya virus spreads through Caribbean to Cuba

Chikungunya virus spreads through Caribbean to Cuba

- Viral disease spread by mosquitoes which bite during daylight hours
- No direct person-to-person transmission
- Name derives from a word meaning "to become contorted" from the
African Kimakonde language
- Symptoms include the sudden onset of fever and joint pain,
particularly affecting the hands, wrists, ankles and feet
- Most patients recover after a few days but in some cases the joint
pain may persist for weeks, months or even longer

Health authorities in Cuba have confirmed six cases of the
mosquito-borne chikungunya virus on the island.

Cuba is the latest Caribbean nation to confirm cases of the virus, which
resembles dengue fever and can cause high fever, skin rash and joint pain.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, there had been 4,600
confirmed and 166,000 suspected cases in the Caribbean as of mid-June.

There is currently no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya.

The Cuban health ministry said those affected had recently travelled to
Haiti or the Dominican Republic, where thousands of people have reported
suffering from the severe headaches, high fever and intense joint pain
symptomatic for the virus.
Officials said they would "strengthen surveillance and control measures
of travellers arriving from countries at risk of the disease, mainly in
the Caribbean".

The virus has long been present in Africa and Asia but it was only
detected in the Caribbean in December.

On Wednesday, the Central American nation of El Salvador put seven
municipalities on alert after its first cases were confirmed.

The virus is also spreading quickly in the Dominican Republic and Haiti,
and there have been confirmed cases in most of the Caribbean island states.

Source: BBC News - Chikungunya virus spreads through Caribbean to Cuba -

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