US Virgin Islands confirms first chikungunya case (Update)

June 11, 2014 by David Mcfadden

A nasty mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean has made its way to the U.S. Virgin Islands, authorities said Wednesday.

Health officials in the U.S. Caribbean territory said they confirmed the islands' first locally transmitted case of chikungunya. They did not disclose any information about the patient. A second patient in the three-island territory was infected elsewhere.

From the island of St. Croix, Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett said local authorities were working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to "raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus."

As of June 6, the Pan American Health Organization had recorded about 135,000 suspected and confirmed cases since the Western Hemisphere's first locally transmitted case was confirmed in the Caribbean in December. That was in St. Martin, a French territory 230 miles east of Puerto Rico.

Since that first case, the viral disease first identified in Africa has spread at a rapid clip, including dozens of confirmed cases in French Guiana and Guyana on the northern shoulder of South America.

There have been cases in Venezuela and other South American countries among people who picked up the virus elsewhere. A few U.S. states are also investigating cases among residents who recently traveled to the Caribbean.

Concern about the advancing virus is growing in the United States. The two species of mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found in the southern and eastern U.S. and some epidemiologists believe the first local transmissions could occur this summer, given the large number of American travelers to the Caribbean.

The island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, appears to have been particularly hard-hit by the newly arrived virus. On Wednesday, the Dominican health ministry said tens of thousands of suspected cases had been detected in 30 of the country's 32 provinces.

Chikungunya's symptoms include a burning fever, headaches and a debilitating pain in joints. There is no vaccine for the virus, which is rarely fatal.

Explore further: Guyana confirms more cases of virus new to region

Related Stories

Guyana has first cases of virus new to region

May 28, 2014

At least two people have been sickened by the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in Guyana in the first locally transmitted cases in the South American country, the health minister said Wednesday.

Haiti offers treatment as virus outbreak surges

May 23, 2014

Haitian health authorities will distribute pain medication to clinics around the country amid a surge in suspected cases of a mosquito-borne virus that is new to the region, a government official said Friday.

Scientists: Mosquito virus spreads to Americas

December 17, 2013

A nasty virus first detected in Africa that is spread to people by the bite of infected mosquitoes is being locally transmitted in the Americas for the first time on the tiny French Caribbean dependency of St. Martin, health ...

Recommended for you

Acne sufferers' cells may be protected against aging

September 28, 2016

Scientists at King's College London have found that people who have previously suffered from acne are likely to have longer telomeres (the protective repeated nucleotides found at the end of chromosomes) in their white blood ...

Antibiotics developed in 1960s show promise for TB therapy

September 28, 2016

First generation cephalosporins—antibiotics introduced as a treatment against bacterial infections in 1963—now show promise for tuberculosis (TB) therapy, according to new research published in Scientific Reports.

Kidney stone? Try a roller coaster ride

September 27, 2016

(HealthDay)—Anyone who's suffered a kidney stone just wants the urinary obstruction gone. Now, preliminary research suggests relief might even be fun: a roller coaster ride.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.