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Chikungunya continuing to spread

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) released the weekly data on the number of chikungunya cases in the Americas on July 25. The agency states that 475,523 suspected or confirmed cases have been reported. The PAHO has received notification from 29 countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere that locally transmitted chikungunya illnesses have been diagnosed. A number of others report travel-associated, or imported, cases of the disease.

PAHO map showing the nations and territories reporting locally acquired cases of chikungunya and imported cases of that illness.
Pan American Health Organization

While the PAHO report is for week 30 of 2014, most of the reporting agencies are several weeks behind that deadline. Dutch St. Martin, for example, has not reported to the agency since week 12. Cuba last reported in week 27 while Haiti did so for week 28.

The Dominican Republic has reported 281,921 confirmed or suspected chikungunya cases through week 28. It is responsible for 59 percent of all the reported cases thus far. Approximately 2.7 percent of the country's population has contracted the viral illness since it was first confirmed in the country in mid-April.

The French-speaking islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, in the eastern Caribbean, remain in the grips of an epidemic of chikungunya. Both have reported through week 28. Guadeloupe has seen 15.9 percent of its population infected since the illness arrived at the beginning of Jan. 2014. Martinique saw the mosquito borne disease arrive at the same time and 13.1 percent of its population has contracted chikungunya.

The United States reported its first two locally acquired chikungunya cases, in Florida, during week 30. As of today, a compilation of state and local reports combined with the weekly Centers for Disease Control chikungunya report shows a total of 564 confirmed illnesses. Puerto Rico has 241 cases. The Virgin Islands have seven. The continental United States has 316, including the two locally acquired in Florida.

Chikungunya is a viral illness with symptoms similar to dengue. It can only be transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine and no cure. Treatment consists of trying to ease the effect of symptoms such as disabling joint pain, fever, rash with intense itching and severe fatigue.

Only two mosquito species are known to transmit the chikungunya virus to humans. The Aedes aegpti, or Yellow Fever mosquito, is the only species presently able to carry and transmit the chikungunya strain circulating in the Americas.