Chikungunya in the Caribbean

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been reporting chikungunya in Saint Martin, and other areas of the Caribbean.

Chikungunya in the CaribbeanSince late December, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been reporting the transmission of chikungunya in Saint Martin, and other areas of the Caribbean.

The situation was update on February 27, 2014:
Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is the current situation?
Mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people.

As of February 5, 2014, the following Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya:
Saint Martin (French)
Sint Maarten (Dutch)
Saint Barthelemy
British Virgin Islands
French Guiana
St. Kitts

What is chikungunya?
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.

According to the Daily Beast, “The symptoms of chikungunya are easily understood by translating the term ‘chikungunya’ from Kimakonde, an East African dialect, it means ‘to become contorted.'” Leaving the victim doubled over in pain for weeks, and residual join pain perhaps months and in some cases years after being infected.

Now that it has reached the Northern Hemisphere, experts predict it is only a matter of time before chikungunya spreads through the rest of the Caribbean and cases will be seen in Florida, Texas and other areas of the United States with high humidity levels.

Who is at risk?
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.

The Centers for Disease Controul suggest you prevent mosquito bites:
-Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
-Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
-Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
DEETExternal Web Site Icon (Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)

Always follow product directions and reapply as directed:
-If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
-Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
-Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
-Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
-Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

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