August 5, 2021

Chikungunya in the Caribbean: An Update on the Outbreak

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Canaries-Saint-LuciaBy Caitlin Bradford From Passport Health

In 2014, many Caribbean nations experienced an outbreak of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease for which there is not a vaccine.

Over one million people in the western hemisphere contracted chikungunya in 2014—an unprecedented number. While only a handful of cases are reported in the United States during an average year, nearly 2,000 tourists came home with the disease last year.

Chikungunya garnered additional attention when actress Lindsay Lohan contracted the disease on a vacation to French Polynesia. Lohan tweeted and posted Instagram photos mentioning the virus and warning others to use bug spray.

The virus is characterized by fever and painful joints, which can last anywhere from days to weeks. Currently there is no vaccination to treat or prevent chikungunya from spreading. The CDC has issued a Watch Level 1, or a warning to use general precautions in certain Caribbean areas. Travelers are urged to use bug spray with DEET and keep their skin covered as much as possible.

According to the CDC, countries and territories in the Americas where chikungunya cases have been reported include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haití, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Maarten, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the United States, the US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.

If you are planning to travel to one or more of the locations listed above, be sure to schedule an appointment with a Passport Health travel health specialist to make sure you are armed with insect-borne disease prevention strategies and supplies (as well as other travel health tips!) to keep you healthy and well.

Comment below to let us know your top insect-borne disease prevention strategies.

IMAGE: Canaries, Saint Lucia

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