Chikungunya, a viral disease, has affected over 55,000 people in the Caribbean.

Cases of chikungunya are mainly reported in Africa and in Asia. However, in December 2013, the first case of the disease was reported and documented French St. Martin, which was likely to be brought by an air traveler infected with the disease. Clinics and hospitals throughout the Caribbean islands are reported that many patients are being treated with symptoms of the viral disease.

Chikungunya is spread by the same mosquitoes that cause dengue, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. As chikungunya has similar clinical signs, sometimes the disease is mistaken as dengue and is misdiagnosed in regions where the latter is a common occurrence. Patients who are affected with chikungunya suffer from high fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms of chikungunya include muscle pain, nausea, rash, headache and fatigue.

Scientists say that there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya. However, treating the disease is focused primarily to relieve the symptoms such as high fever and severe pain.

As the disease is now widely spread in the Caribbean islands, health officials are focusing to educate public about the disease, reduce the mosquito population and also deal with reducing the number of cases.

"Prevention and control relies heavily on reducing the number of natural and artificial water-filled container habitats that support breeding of the mosquitoes. This requires mobilization of affected communities," per Pan America Health Organization (PAHO). "During outbreaks, insecticides may be sprayed to kill flying mosquitoes, applied to surfaces in and around containers where the mosquitoes land, and used to treat water in containers to kill the immature larvae."

Caribbean officials say that they have found no signs of the disease deterring to visitors to the Caribbean islands; however, if the disease is not controlled it may ward off visitors to the Caribbean. Dominica Tourism Minister Ian Douglas says that authorities should try to control the disease swiftly so that it does not affect tourism.

Seven people in the Caribbean islands are reported to have died after the outbreak of chikungunya. However, PAHO says that the seven people who died also had other underlying health issues that may have caused their death.

PAHO advises that people in areas where chikungunya has spread should wear clothes that minimize skin exposure. People can also apply mosquito repellents on their exposed skin in accordance with the labeling on the repellents.

Florida, Haiti and Dominican Republic have all confirmed some cases of chikungunya.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.