European public health authorities anticipate that the outbreak of the viral disease chikungunya will expand in the Caribbean and permanently establish itself on the islands, writes The Daily Herald. Because of the intensive traffic of persons between the Caribbean and Europe, authorities urge doctors to take the disease into account in case travellers display the symptoms of chikungunya.
This was stated in an article that was published in Eurosurveillance on Friday. The article was published with the assistance of the Dutch government institute for public health RIVM. The first patients with chikungunya in the Caribbean were confirmed in December 2013. It concerned two patients in French St. Martin. Since then there have been more cases and the virus has spread to different islands in the Caribbean.
Considering the large area of presence of the mosquitoes that transfer the disease, European health authorities anticipate that the disease will further spread and that it will become a permanent illness. It is very possible that the chikungunya virus will come to Europe via patients that have fallen ill during their stay on the islands. That is why the researchers of Eurosurveillance are advising doctors to also consider chikungunya aside from dengue when people come from the Caribbean with symptoms. Chikungunya is an infectious disease causes by the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus that mostly bite during the day. The most common symptoms are high fever, severe muscle and joint pain, headache, sensitivity to light and a skin rash that can last several weeks to months.