The Daily Herald writes that Dutch public health organisations are warning travellers about the outbreak of the chikungunya viral disease in the Windward Islands. Public health organisations in the Netherlands started warning people since December. On Friday, the Mid-Gelderland Safety and Health Region (Veiligheidsen Gezondheidsregio Gelderland- Midden VGGM) issued a release stating that chikungunya was spreading in the Dutch Caribbean since October 2013. According to the VGGM, a total of 2,288 chikungunya cases were reported on February 26, 2014, on the British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten/Saint Martin, Martinique, Saint Barthélemy, Guadeloupe, Dominica, French Guyana, Anguilla, Aruba, Saint Kitts and Nevis. “Since December 16, 2013, 115 confirmed chikungunya cases have been reported in St. Maarten/Saint Martin. The cases in French Guyana are the first ones on the South American main land. Spreading to other islands/ countries in the region is expected,” it was stated. St. Maarten/Saint Martin was the first island near the American continent where chikungunya was detected.
Chikungunya is a viral disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes, particularly the Aedes aegypti which exists throughout the Caribbean. The syndromes are flu-like with pain in the large joints like the hip, spinal column and knees. Dutch travellers going to the Caribbean are advised to take precautions against mosquitoes by using DEET repellent, sleeping under a mosquito net, wearing protective clothing and keeping rooms mosquito-free.
The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment RIVM of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and the National Coordination Centre Travel Advisory LCR in the Netherlands already warned about the chikungunya outbreak mid-December last year. People travelling to the area were warned to take precautions. The Rotterdam-Rijnmond Public Health Service (GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond) issued a similar warning late January this year.