Chikungunya, a mosquito borne illness that causes fever and severe joint pain, has been spreading throughout several Caribbean territories since late last month.
Officials on the island of St. Martin, have begun vector control measures to reduce the population of the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is primarily responsible for the spread of the virus; regional netizens have been using Twitter to give updates:
Mosquito fogging to start Thursday throughout country; Residents urged to step up mosquito elimination measure… http://t.co/t1nqC12kJm
— Mr. St.Maarten (@visitstmaarten) December 11, 2013
Cases have also been reported on the Dutch side of the island:
Minister De Weever: Country wide Clean-Up to Start January 25; 10 Confirmed Cases of Chikungunya; Country rema… http://t.co/ELcvrQSpve
— Mr. St.Maarten (@visitstmaarten) January 21, 2014
Other territories are also taking precautions as cases of the virus have been reported in several other islands:
#CURACAO: Health officials are to take steps to combat the chikungunya virus after detection in the dutch part of St Maarten
— CaribbeanNewsNetwork (@caribbeannewsuk) January 16, 2014
— Barbados Today (@BarbadosToday) January 18, 2014
Chikungunya spreading in Caribbean. Besides St. Martin/St, Maarten, now in St. Barts, Martinique, Guadeloupe and BVI http://t.co/3E5HHRLUIQ
— David McFadden (@dmcfadd) January 14, 2014
American Science Professor and blogger Jeff Stratford predicted that it is only a matter of time until cases of the virus appear in the United States:
Why do I think Chukungunya is coming to the US? The virus is carried by mosquitoes are are ubiquitous throughout the Americas. All the virus needs to get a foothold in the US is for an infected individual (say a tourist) to bring the virus back to the Americas while the virus is circulating in their bloodstream. Then an “American” mosquito can bite the infected person, pick up the virus, and the cycle starts anew.
Since 2005, cases of the virus has been reported in over 40 countries worldwide. You can keep track of the regional spread of the disease via Twitter, under the hashtags #chikungunya #caribbean.