US and UK monitoring chikungunya cases in returning vacationers

By Caribbean Medical News Staff
Holiday makers returning to the UK and US are keeping their respective public health agencies on their toes.
According to Public Health England, the UK is monitoring almost 200 cases with 162 being a direct association with travel to the Caribbean and Latin America as well as South America. Grenada, Barbados and Jamaica have been identified as the islands from which chikungunya has been reported in holiday makers returning to the UK.
Meanwhile in the US, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that over 1600 visitors to the Caribbean had returned to its shores with chikungunya as of Nov 4, 2014.
Chikungunya has been raging throughout the region with it first presenting in French St. Martin and spreading to several islands causing havoc, sick leave en masse in various island nations and packing Accident and Emergency rooms across the Caribbean.
Dr. James Hospedales of CARPHA has asked all Caribbean nations to do all in their power to eradicate the mosquito breeding sites which breed vectors that cause the illness. The disease is caused by the same mosquito that causes dengue fever. The illness can be severe with joint pain, rash, severe headache and prolonged symptoms with the elderly and babies as well as the already ill being most vulnerable.
Dr Dipti Patel, Director of the National Travel Health Network and Centre said there is no vaccination against the contraction of chikungunya disease.
“Travellers going to the Caribbean and other affected areas can reduce their risk of chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, by practicing insect avoidance measures,” she said in a report.
The worst affected areas include the French islands of Guadeloupe, Haiti, Martinique and Spanish island-nation Dominican Republic according to sources. Ministers of Health have been grappling with the illness for months with public education awareness programmes, vector control programmes and town hall meetings.

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