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Reported cases of chikungunya climb

Both the Pan American Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control released reports on May 23 with data on the continuing spread of chikungunya in the Caribbean. The data varies in both quality and content but they agree on one important point. The number of suspected and confirmed cases of the mosquito borne illness is well in excess of 63,000 since it was first identified in early Dec. 2013.

An aedes aegypti mosquito biting a human
An aedes aegypti mosquito biting a human
CDC / public domain

The lowest of the two case counts is from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Its Communicable disease threats report, 18-24 May 2014, week 21 report lists 5,085 confirmed cases of chikungunya and another 58,404 that are suspected.

The rapidly growing number of cases in the Dominican Republic and Haiti are poorly reported. Haiti is shown with just 632 confirmed cases. The Dominican Republic is reported to have 17 confirmed cases and 8,017 suspected cases. That number for the Dominican Republic has not changed in three weeks.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is showing a higher number of chikungunya cases in its report, albeit with several issues. It has a total of 4,356 confirmed cases and an additional 61,864 suspected cases to a total of 66,220.

The PAHO report shows that Haiti has six confirmed cases and 3,460 suspected cases. The Dutch side of St. Martin has been an issue for some weeks. The PAHO is reporting 123 confirmed cases while the ECDC reports 301 confirmed and 325 suspect cases.

The PAHO agrees with the ECDC totals for the Dominican Republic. The PAHO report has the islands of St. Kitts & Nevis with 21 confirmed chikungunya cases, while the Europeans have just one. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines show 57 confirmed cases and 110 suspect cases, while the ECDC total is much lower with 3 confirmed and 24 suspect.

Neither report has the four cases discovered in Florida in the last week, the one case in the U.S. Virgin Islands or two cases found in Panama. All of these cases were imported and not locally acquired.

Media reports from both the Dominican Republic and from Haiti quote government officials who are reporting far greater numbers of chikungunya cases. In a May 24 story, Reuters quotes the Dominican Republic's Public Health Ministry as reporting 14,000 suspected chikungunya cases.

Dr. Jean-Luc Poncelet, a representative of the World Health Authority, told Reuters that 30 to 35 percent of Haiti's population will catch the illness. The CIA estimates Haiti has a population of about 9,996,731. If his prediction is correct, over three million will become infected.

No cases of chikungunya have been reported from Puerto Rico or by Cuba. Media reports of suspected cases in Honduras and in Suriname have not been confirmed by lab testing. The only cases of locally acquired chikungunya on the mainland of North or South America are in French Guyana where the number of cases increased by 50 last week, to 176.