CDC reports 90 cases of Chikungunya infections in the Caribbean


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported the first laboratory-confirmed cases of Chikungunya in the Americas on the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean.

The ECDC reported on Wednesday that the total count of Polymerase Chain Reaction-confirmed cases of Chikungunya on the French side of Saint Martin grew to 89, with an additional 20 suspect cases currently under investigation. There is also one confirmed case on the Dutch side of Saint Martin.

The outbreak began on December 6, when the first laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease were documented. This marked the first time the disease was documented in the Americas.

Chikungunya is a common disease in Africa, Southeast Asia, India and parts of Europe. It is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause muscle pain, debilitating joint pain, headaches, fever, rash, nosebleeds and bleeding of the gums.

Health officials from the CDC are concerned the disease may travel to the American mainland, as the same mosquitoes carrying the virus in Saint Martin are also present in some areas of the United States.

"Microbes know no boundaries, and the appearance of chikungunya virus in the Western hemisphere represents another threat to health security," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "CDC experts have predicted and prepared for its arrival for several years and there are surveillance systems in place to help us track it. To protect Americans, we have to support and maintain capacity to detect and respond to the emergence of new viruses."