News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Sept. 17, 2014: The death toll from the mosquito-borne viral disease Chikungunya continues to rise in the Caribbean, now passing the 100 mark, health officials say.
The Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO) puts the death toll from the disease in the region to 113 people in its latest report.
The French Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe have reported the most deaths from the disease, according to PAHO.
Fifty-five deaths have been linked to the virus in Martinique since last December, when the disease was first detected in the Americas while 49 deaths were reported in Guadeloupe.
Six deaths have been reported in the Dominican Republic and three in St. Martin, where the virus was first found in the Americas.
A total of 706,000 suspected and 8,651 confirmed Chikungunya cases have been reported in the region.
Chikungunya’s symptoms include acute fever, followed by a longer period of joint pains in the extremities that may persist for years in some cases. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.
The disease is transmitted to humans by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes like dengue fever and while no specific treatment is known, medications can be used to reduce symptoms.
The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).
There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.