Puerto Rico Declares Chikungunya Epidemic

Photo Credit: Morguefile.com

Photo Credit: Morguefile.com

On Thursday, health officials declared Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus, an epidemic. The virus was introduced into the Caribbean region just late last year.

Health Secretary, Ana Rius, said that more than 200 cases had been confirmed on the island as of June 25 and that the majority of them were reported in the capital of San Juan and nearby areas.

The first case of Chikungunya in U.S. territory was reported in late May.

Officials in Jamaica reported the island’s first confirmed case. The chief medical officer, Dr. Kevin Harvey, said the virus was found in a person who had recently traveled to a country where there have been locally transmitted cases.

In Florida, health officials reported the first domestically acquired Chikungunya infection in the United States.

Across the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization recorded more than 354,000 suspected and confirmed cases as of July 11. The Western Hemisphere’s first locally transmitted case was confirmed in December in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin.

Chikungunya was first identified in Africa in 1953. It causes a high fever and severe pain in the joints, but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine, and it mainly is treated with pain medication.

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