10 January 2014
On 6 December 2013, the first cases of locally-acquired chikungunya infection were reported in the French Caribbean territory of St Martin ; the number of confirmed or probable cases reported in the territory has since increased to 201 as of 9 January 2014 .
Enhanced surveillance for chikungunya virus has been implemented in all the French Caribbean territories and cases have now been detected in Martinique (48 probable or confirmed), St Barthélemy (25 probable or confirmed), Guadeloupe (10 probable or confirmed, including one imported from St Martin), and French Guiana (one case imported from Martinique) . Additionally, two confirmed cases have been reported in the Dutch part of St Martin (Sint Maarten) . More cases, clinically suspected to be chikungunya, in the above territories are undergoing testing ; therefore the number of confirmed cases is expected to increase in the coming weeks.
The mosquito vectors for chikungunya, Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti, are distributed throughout the Caribbean and the Americas therefore the region is highly susceptible to the introduction and spread of chikungunya. Dengue fever, also spread by Aedes mosquitoes, and which presents with a similar illness to chikungunya, is already well established in the region. Chikungunya is an illness characterised by rapid onset of fever, headache, myalgia and arthralgia, with 10% going on to suffer more chronic symptoms. More information about chikungunya is available on the HPA legacy website .
Health professionals should be alert to the possibility of chikungunya infection in those returning from the Caribbean with a febrile illness, particularly if dengue fever has been excluded. To date no cases of chikungunya associated with travel to the Caribbean have been reported in the UK. If a case is suspected, appropriate samples should be sent for testing (including a full travel and clinical history with relevant dates) to the Public Health England Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory.
The Imported Fever Service is available to local infectious disease physicians or microbiologists should specialist advice be needed on 0844 7788990.
Travellers to the Caribbean should practise insect bite avoidance measures. Aedes mosquitoes are most active during daylight hours. Particular vigilance with bite avoidance should be taken around dawn and dusk. There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya .
2. Epidemiological update: autochthonous cases of chikungunya fever in the Caribbean region, 10 January 2014. ECDC Portal: Portal Home > English > Media Centre > News.