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Over thirteen thousand chikungunya cases suspected in Caribbean

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The latest report on the chikungunya epidemic in the Caribbean from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) was released on March 14. The primary outbreak continues to be on the French-speaking islands in the eastern Caribbean. The number of locally acquired chikungunya cases in French Guyana, on the South American mainland, continues to rise. Four deaths have now been confirmed in the outbreak.

The latest data shows 2,818 confirmed or probable cases of chikungunya. Four French-speaking islands are also reporting suspected cases of the illness, which now total 10,450. The total to date is 13,268 which is a 26 percent increase from the previous week. French St. Martin has recorded three chikungunya related deaths while Martinique has recorded one related death.

Locally acquired cases of chikungunya are new to the Western Hemisphere. The first cases were discovered on the French side of the island of St. Martin in Dec. 2013. Since that time, locally acquired cases of the mosquito borne illness have been diagnosed on eight other islands and on the mainland. Aruba, a Dutch island, has seen one imported case of the disease.

Public health authorities in several countries have issued alerts for travelers to the region, since late winter represents the height of the tourist season in the eastern Caribbean. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated its travel notice Feb. 27. Canada issued its latest travel health notice on Feb. 24. The United Kingdom urges travelers to practice insect bite avoidance measures in its Jan. 25 message.

France, in a message titled Chikungunya in the Antilles and Guyana - Recommendations for Travelers dated Feb.28 notes that it is the school holiday season. They urge individual protective measures against mosquito bites.

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