Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chikunguna - Coming to America

Aedes aegypti mosquito - one of two primary transmitters of Chikungunya
Early this week Florida health officials and the CDC announced the first locally acquired, non-travel associated, Chikungunya cases in the US. Not surprising, I guessed that this would happen by the end of the year. 

Currently, there is a massive epidemic occurring in the Caribbean and with the number of travelers going between Florida and the Caribbean islands, this was bound to happen sooner, rather than later. The United States has the proper vector (shown above), the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos (tiger mosquito).

The outbreak in the Caribbean has affected more than 355,000 with the number continuing to grow by roughly 40,000 per week

Surveillance has increased, especially in the southern US and numerous states have reported imported cases of Chikungunya. As of 15 July 2014, the CDC has received reports of 234 travel-related cases, 73 of them in Florida. Thirty-one states have reported cases, with Florida seeing the majority, followed by New York (20), Tennessee (13), New Jersey (12), and California (11).

Puerto Rico has also declared a Chikungunya epidemic with greater than 200 cases reported as of 25 June 2014.

If you have questions, use the comments section below!

Chikungunya is a very unpleasant disease, characterized by fever and joint pain. Typically, the illness lasts about a week, however the joint pain can be severe, debilitating, and persistent. The fatality rate is low with some past outbreaks yielding 1/1000 (although case fatality numbers are difficult to accurately predict).

Chikungunya has not been shown to spread person to person, but mosquitoes that bite people who are already infected can then pass the disease to other people.

Common precautions to take when dealing with mosquito transmitted viruses is to drain standing water, cover your skin with clothing and repellent, covering doors and windows with screens, and avoiding "peak" mosquito hours. Unfortunately, the two Aedes sp. mosquitoes that are known to spread Chikungunya have varying peak times and the Aedes albopictus especially is a nuisance as it known to be more urban and bite during the day as well as dawn and dusk periods.
I encourage everyone to use the comments section below! 
  • Lance D. Presser has a PhD in microbiology and immunology and is a public health/clinical laboratorian.
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  1. See;
    Modeling Dynamic Introduction of Chikungunya Virus in the United States
    Ruiz-Merina et al, Neglected Tropical Diseases, 2012

  2. Great link. Definitely an important paper for the current issue.