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 confirms more cases of virus new to region

June 5, 2014
A mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading fast since the first locally transmitted case in the Western Hemisphere has infected at least 12 more people in Guyana.

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.

Mosquito-borne virus spreads rapidly in Haiti (Update)

May 13, 2014
A mosquito-borne virus that was detected for the first time in Haiti last week has quickly spread throughout the Caribbean nation, a health official said Tuesday.

Newly arrived virus spreads in Dominican Republic

April 29, 2014
Health officials in the Dominican Republic say a mosquito-borne virus has spread widely since making its first appearance in the country.

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

New insights into herpes virus could inform vaccine development

October 18, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered new insights into the mechanisms of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, as well as two antibodies that block the virus' entry into cells. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

Portable 3-D scanner assesses patients with elephantiasis

October 17, 2017
An estimated 120 million people worldwide are infected with lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic, mosquito-borne disease that can cause major swelling and deformity of the legs, a condition known as elephantiasis. Health-care ...

New tools to combat kidney fibrosis

October 16, 2017
Interstitial fibrosis – excessive tissue scarring – contributes to chronic kidney disease, which is increasing in prevalence in the United States.

How hepatitis C hides in the body

October 13, 2017
The Hepatitis C (HCV) virus is a sly enemy to have in one's body. Not only does it manage to make itself invisible to the immune system by breaking down communication between the immune cells, it also builds secret virus ...

Largest study yet of malaria in Africa shows historical rates of infection

October 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with members from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the University of Oxford and the University of KwaZulu-Natal has conducted the largest-ever study of the history of malaria ...

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.