Tag Archive | mosquito-borne virus

Chikungunya Virus is spreading across Jamaica at an alarming and scary rate

Chikungunya Virus Alert

Jamaica’s health minister said Sunday that the government is doing all it can to combat a newly arrived mosquito-borne virus that is increasingly disrupting life and cutting productivity on the Caribbean island.
 
In a national address carried on television and radio, Fenton Ferguson said the Chikungunya virus is spreading across Jamaica and “everyone is susceptible.”
 
“We are aware of the impact this is having on productivity and attendance at school and work and ask employers to be compassionate and assist their staff through this difficult period,” Ferguson said.
 
It’s a rarely fatal but typically very painful viral illness that has advanced rapidly through the Caribbean and parts of Latin America after local transmission started in the tiny French dependency of St. Martin late last year, likely introduced by an infected air traveler. Apparently hardest hit has been the Dominican Republic, with half the cases reported in the Americas.
 
In recent days, the mosquito-borne virus with no cure or vaccine has been increasingly sickening people in Jamaica, perhaps most severely in the southeastern parish of St. Thomas.
 
“Schools, business, churches, farms and entire communities in St. Thomas continue to report ever mounting cases of persons ill with chikungunya, some communities with over half the population affected,” said opposition official Delano Seiveright before the health minister’s speech.
 
Confirmed cases in Jamaica are few so far, but there are many signs that the real number of sickened people is far higher than the official tally. Laboratories have only been able to confirm a small portion of people who fall ill because many patients don’t bother seeking care so their cases go unrecorded. Some private doctors are also not reporting patients to the government, according to the health ministry.
 
Some Jamaicans are blasting the government for what they believe is a sluggish response to a public health threat they knew was on the way. Fenton asserts the government was prepared and is doing all it can to swat down the virus but the “expectation is for chikungunya cases to spike and then trend down” as more people become immune. People develop immunity after getting infected.

Chikungunya virus targets 20 New Jersey residents, USA

Chikungunya Virus Alert

Twenty New Jersey residents have tested positive for the chikungunya virus, according to the state Health Department.

The mosquito-borne virus has spread through the Caribbean, and the first two cases in the U.S. were reported last week in Florida.

Health officials say the virus is not contagious from person to person, is typically not life threatening and will likely resolve on its own.

If a person tests positive for chikungunya and is then bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the infection by biting another person.

Infection with chikungunya virus is rarely fatal, but the joint pain can often be severe and debilitating. Other symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain and rash.

Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, the health department says. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks, however, some people may develop long-term effects. Complications are more common in infants younger than a year old; those older than 65; and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The state Health Department says the residents who came down with chikungunya had returned to New Jersey from the Caribbean. Chikungunya causes a high fever and severe pain in the joints.

Incurable chikungunya virus spreads in US, at least 6 states affected

Chikungunya Virus Alert

US health officials are on high alert as a mosquito-borne virus that yet has no cure has struck six of the US states. The virus called chikungunya causes severe joint pain which can last for years.

The latest case of the virus has been confirmed by Tennessee officials as the resident of Madison County, has been tested positive for the virus. The officials, however, added that there was no transmission to other residents in the state.

“It will be more difficult for the virus to establish itself here,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee told Tech Times.

Rhode Island authorities also confirmed two cases of the mosquito-borne virus. They involve travelers who returned from the Dominican Republic on May 17 and May 29, said state officials, adding that authorities are currently investigating several other suspicious cases of the virus.

Florida has been the worst hit by the virus, with at least 25 cases reported in the state, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Florida Department of Health released a set of guidelines in order to avoid becoming infected and spreading the virus.

A scientist examines tiger mosquitos (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)
A scientist examines tiger mosquitos

The cases of the virus, transmitted to humans through mosquitoes, have also been confirmed in North Carolina, Nebraska and Indiana.

On Wednesday, the virus affected two residents from the US Virgin Islands, according to local authorities.

“The first case has been confirmed as locally acquired; the second case is an imported case with the patient recent travel history outside of the Territory,” said the Department of Health in the US Virgin Islands in a press release.

Florida officials advised residents “to wear long sleeves and long pants when possible,” and “use mosquito-proof screens on windows and doors.”

A resident of San Cristobal, southeast of Santo Domingo with symptoms of chikungunya fever awaits to be treated in the emergency sector of the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital. (AFP Photo / Erika Santelices)
A resident of San Cristobal, southeast of Santo Domingo with symptoms of chikungunya fever awaits to be treated in the emergency sector of the Juan Pablo Pina Hospital

Symptoms of the malaria-like illness include fever, headache, chills, sensitivity to light, and rash, vomiting and severe joint pain, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints, it adds. They usually begin three to seven days after infection occurs. The consequences include a long period of joint pains which may persist for years in some cases. Though the virus rarely leads to death, the problem is that there is currently no vaccine available. The treatment only aims at improving the symptoms.

According to WHO, Chikungunya was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952, eastern Africa, and since then has been detected in nearly 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and also in the Americas.

The Pan American Health Organization says that about 165,000 cases have been either suspected or confirmed in the Caribbean since it was first documented in 2013-2014 with 14 death cases. Most of the cases have been detected in Dominican Republic, Guadalupe, Martinique and Haiti.

Virus Advances Through East Caribbean
A painful mosquito-borne virus common in Africa and Asia has advanced quickly throughout the eastern Caribbean in the past two months, raising the prospect that a once-distant illness will become entrenched throughout the region, public health experts say.
 
Chikungunya fever, a viral disease similar to dengue, was first spotted in December on the French side of St. Martin and has now spread to seven other countries, the authorities said. About 3,700 people are confirmed or suspected of having contracted it.
 
It was the first time the malady was locally acquired in the Western Hemisphere. Experts say conditions are ripe for the illness to spread to Central and South America, but they say it is unlikely to affect the United States.
 
“It is an important development when disease moves from one continent to another,” said Dr. C. James Hospedales, the executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad. “Is it likely here to stay? Probably. That’s the pattern we have observed elsewhere.”