News Americas, Stockholm, Sweden, Weds. Aug. 13, 2014: The death toll from the mosquito borne disease, chikungunya, now stands at 32 in the Caribbean according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Chikungunya disease rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most people who get sick feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may last for months or years.
The six new deaths were all reported in the French Caribbean island of Martinique, where the number of deaths from the disease now stands at 19.
An outbreak of the chikungunya virus infection has been ongoing in the Caribbean since December 2013 and has now spread to North, Central and South America.
Compared to last week, the number of reported cases of chikungunya infections has risen by 8 percent in the Caribbean nations of Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (Dutch), Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and the US Virgin Islands., according to the Center for Disease Control
There are now more than 510 000 probable and confirmed cases in the region.
The Dominican Republic accounts for the highest increase, with more then 26 000 new cases reported.
The CDC recommends that travelers to the Caribbean protect themselves from mosquito bites. People who have arthritis, are older than 65, pregnant and have serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes) are most at risk to the disease.
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. The only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing bites can be difficult, but it is important as you can get sick after just one bite.
The CDC recommends taking the following steps to reduce the chances that you will be bitten by mosquitoes during your trip.
Prevent mosquito bites:
Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.
Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients:
Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
Follow package directions when applying repellent on children. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
Stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.
Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
If you feel sick and think you may have chikungunya:
Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
Tell them about your travel.
Get lots of rest, and drink plenty of liquids.
Avoid spreading the disease by preventing more mosquito bites.