Bahamian authorities confirmed, on July 4th, the country’s first case of the mosquito-borne disease, Chikungunya, warning that the progression of the sickness in the region is occurring at the rate of one country every seven to 14 days.
Environment and Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett in an update statement on the virus said that the case recorded here has been linked to a “tourist visiting from the Dominican Republic” who has since been admitted to hospital.
He said the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) is aware of this threat to the health of the population and has since “implemented a heightened monitoring programme for Aedes aegypti at all ports of entry in The Bahamas in response to the alert of Chikungunya transmission in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“This activity will continue. Additionally, the systematic monitoring of localities for mosquito breeding will continue and fogging exercises will be conducted for the established prevention protocols.”
Dorsett said that since the virus was first detected in the Caribbean in December 2013, in the last six months, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has documented nearly 4,600 new cases of Chikungunya in the Caribbean.
“Chikungunya is spreading rapidly on the French Islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, accounting for 2,800 of new cases. It has been reported that there have been a total of “165,800 suspected and 4,805 laboratory-confirmed chikungunya cases from five jurisdictions” in the Caribbean he added.
Countries and territories in the Caribbean where chikungunya cases have been reported* (as of July 1, 2014)
Image: Countries in the Caribbean where chikungunya cases have been reported, listed in below data table
*Does not include countries or territories where only imported cases have been documented. This map is updated weekly if there are new countries or territories that report local chikungunya virus transmission. (Credit: cdc.gov)
Countries and territories in the Americas where chikungunya cases have been reported: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands.
The Chikungunya virus was originally discovered in Tanzania in the 1950s and remained relatively unknown for decades. It is mosquito-borne alpha-virus transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, the same transmitters of the dengue virus.
Dorsett said the disease is like dengue fever, causing fever, rash and nausea, as well as joint pains that are usually bilateral and symmetric and can be severe and debilitating.
He said the symptoms can last for months or years and that mortality is rare occurring mostly in older adults.