Britain warns travellers to the Caribbean about Chikungunya virus
2006Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre DameThis 2006 photograph depicted a female <i>Aedes aegypti</i> mosquito while she was in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host, who in this instance, was actually the biomedical photographer, James Gathany, here at the Centers for Disease Control. You’ll note the feeding apparatus consisting of a sharp, orange-colored “fascicle”, which while not feeding, is covered in a soft, pliant sheath called the "labellum”, which retracts as the sharp stylets contained within pierce the host's skin surface, as the insect obtains its blood meal. The orange color of the fascicle is due to the red color of the blood as it migrates up the thin, sharp translucent tube.The first reported epidemics of Dengue (DF) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) occurred in 1779-1780 in Asia, Africa, and North America. The near simultaneous occurrence of outbreaks on three continents indicates that these viruses and their mosquito vector have had a worldwide distribution in the tropics for more than 200 years. During most of this time, DF was considered a mild, nonfatal disease of visitors to the tropics. Generally, there were long intervals (10-40 years) between major epidemics, mainly because the introduction of a new serotype in a susceptible population occurred only if viruses and their mosquito vector, primarily the <i>Aedes aegypti</i> mosquito, could survive the slow transport between population centers by sailing vessels.

LONDON (CMC) – Britain has warned travellers to the Caribbean about contracting the Chikungunya virus, based on the dramatic increase in the number of people affected by the disease in the last year.

On Friday, Public Health England (PHE) said according to its latest annual data, there has been a 12-fold increase from 24 cases in 2013 to 295 cases in 2014 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The majority of cases, 88 percent, were acquired on trips to the Caribbean and South America.

The outbreak, which started in December 2013 in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin, has now affected most of the countries and territories in the Caribbean and Americas.

“Chikungunya is an unpleasant viral illness that can cause fever and joint pains, which, in some patients, may persist for a prolonged period,” said Dr Hilary Kirkbride, head of PHE's Travel and Migrant Health.  

“Prevention relies on avoiding mosquito bites, particularly around dusk and dawn, when day biting mosquitoes are most active, as there is no specific preventive medicine or vaccination against chikungunya,” she added.

Dr Dipti Patel, joint director at Britian's National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC), “strongly” recommends that travelers seek pre-travel advice from their general physician, a specialist travel clinic or pharmacy at least six to eight weeks before they travel.

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