News Americas, MARIGOT, St. Martin, Fri. Dec. 20, 2013: With a travel warning slapped on St. Martin by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), officials on the island have launched a mosquito fogging exercise that will hopefully contain the chikungunya virus.
This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 10 cases of chikungunya virus which comes from the same mosquito that carries dengue fever on the French side of St. Martin in the Caribbean.
Scientists say a viral disease first detected in Africa that is spread to people by infected mosquitoes is being locally transmitted in the Americas for the first time.
The illness usually does not lead to fatalities but there is no vaccine for it, and it can cause a debilitating sickness with intense muscle and joint pain, fever, rash, fatigue and vomiting.
St. Martin Vice President Guillaume Arnell says “it started here so we have to contain it here.”
St. Martin shares a tiny island with Dutch St. Maarten. Health officials on both sides of the island are responding to the outbreak.
They advise to counter the disease includes covering exposed skin, use of an appropriate insect repellent, stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms and use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
According to the World Health Organization, Chikungunya was first described during an outbreak in southern Tanzania in 1952. The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a root verb in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.
The mosquito that carries chikungunya virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.