Viruses without borders

Its name meaning “that which bends up” in the Makonde language native to Tanzania and Mozambique, Chikungunya is a nasty genus of Alphavirus that causes high fever, rash, and severe joint pain that can last for years. And he’s on the move.

Business Insider reports:

What began with just 10 confirmed cases of the chikungunya virus on the French side of St. Martin last month has quickly spiraled into a much larger outbreak with nearly 300 confirmed cases spanning the Caribbean from Martinique to the British Virgin Islands.

Spread by the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, Chikungunya outbreaks have been relegated to Africa’s tropical and equatorial climes, as well as India and Southeast Asia. Having somehow managed to hitchhike to St. Martin, it now has the forces of economics on its side. Caribbean islands thrive on tourism, and many travelers to the region make multiple stops across multiple islands, giving the virus ample opportunity to spread to otherwise isolated locales.

There is no vaccine for Chikungunya, and there is no treatment. The only effective method of preventing infection is destroying the mosquitoes that carry the virus.


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