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Chikungunya sweeps the Americas - death toll rises

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Nov. 4, 2014: The focus globally may be on the deadly Ebola virus but the death toll from the mosquito-borne viral disease Chikungunya disease continues to inch upwards in the Americas, now passing the 150 mark as of October 31, 2014.

The latest data released by the Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO) puts the death toll from the disease in the region to 153, a rise by one from last week.

The French Caribbean territories of Martinique and Guadeloupe have reported the most deaths from the disease, according to PAHO. Seventy-four deaths in Martinique have been linked to the virus while 65 deaths have now been reported in Guadeloupe, according to PAHO data.

The death toll in the Dominican Republic and in St. Martin, where the virus originated last December, has stymied at 6 and 3, respectively while one death has been reported in Suriname.

A total of 780,206 people are suspected of having the virus now, compared with 706,000 over a month ago. However, only 13,357 cases have been confirmed, PAHO said. The DR leads the region with the largest number of suspect cases – a whopping 486,306. They are followed by 80,370 in Guadeloupe and 68,340 in Martinique.

Haiti reportedly has 64,695 suspected cases followed by Colombia with 19,335 and Ecuador with 16,389. Puerto Rico reported 14,587 suspected cases while there are 7,072 in Venezuela; 5,910 in French Guiana and 4,330 in French Saint Martin.

PAHO reports claim there are 3,745 suspected cases in Dominica and 2,826 in Grenada. Some 1,249 were reported in Antigua & Barbuda and 1,060 were reported in Saint Barthelemy.  The US Virgin Islands had 993 suspected cases while there were 709 in Jamaica; 329 in St. Maarten; 214 in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and 31 in St. Lucia.

Belize reported its first cases of Chikungunya Monday. The three cases are from Las Flore sin Belmopan. Montserrat reported only two suspected cases.

Chikungunya’s symptoms include acute fever, followed by a longer period of joint pains in the extremities that may persist for years in some cases. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

The disease is transmitted to humans by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes like dengue fever and while no specific treatment is known, medications can be used to reduce symptoms.

The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).

There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine.

Last modified onWednesday, 05 November 2014 10:36

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