Chikungunya Virus Now Threatens All of Central America and the Caribbean

The Costa Rica News (TCRN) – Last December the first case of the chikungunya virus was recorded in America, which still has no cure and is expanding rapidly across the continent. In the Caribbean alone there have been 165,990 cases of infection.

The chikungunya virus is transmitted by a species of mosquito and is very similar to dengue, making it difficult to diagnose. The virus is not curable and treatment is limited to the relief of symptoms such as fever, rash, severe muscle and joint pain and headache. Only rarely chikungunya kills (mostly among elderly people), but its consequences can be felt for months or even years.

The virus is originated in Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania, but last December a first case in America, on the Caribbean island St. Maarten, was recorded. From then until June 13 only in the Caribbean 165,990 cases were reported with similar disease symptoms, although only 4,576 of these were officially confirmed as chikungunya, according to the Pan American Health Organization. 14 cases were fatal. The absolute majority of documented cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic and Martinique

On Wednesday, authorities of Cuba confirmed the first six (at least) cases on the island. In addition, the virus has spread along most of the continent, reaching the U.S. and 18 other countries and territories of the continent including Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, Chile and Puerto Rico, as reports the newspaper ‘El Espectador’ citing data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC English) of the U.S. In fact, the region that might be the most affected, is Central America where the chikungunya epidemic threatens to acquire character.

On Wednesday the Salvadoran President, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, announced that an alert condition shall be declared to fight chikungunya transmitters in areas where the disease has appeared in order to avoid its extension across the whole country. He argues that it “could become an epidemic”, especially during this rainy season. So far about 1,119 people have been affected in that country, which has no outlet to the Caribbean Sea. Nicaragua and Costa Rica also have taken steps to deal with a potential outbreak of the virus.

The Costa Rica News (TCRN)

San Jose, Costa Rica

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