Dreaded Chikungunya Virus Detected In Cuba. Is The U.S. At Risk?

Two weeks ago, The Inquisitr had reported about the spread of the Chikungunya virus across the Caribbean. Over 100,000 people were back then thought to have been affected by the Chikungunya Virus. While not usually deadly, the disease is infamous for causing extreme discomfort to patients. Two weeks ago, the Federal health officials in the Caribbean had confirmed that the Chikungunya virus is spreading rapidly across the region and that the number of people suffering from it nearly doubled. Two weeks later, the situation doesn’t seem to have changed a bit. To make things more alarming, it seems the epidemic is gradually moving towards entering the United States.

While the disease was earlier detected in countries quite some distance away in the south Caribbean, the detection of the Chikungunya virus in Cuba has sent alarm bells ringing in the U.S. as well. In case you are unaware, the Cuban coast is just 93 miles from the United States. Cuban authorities have confirmed the detection of six cases of Chikungunya virus until Wednesday, reports AFP. This makes Cuba the latest country to have confirmed cases of the disease. According to a statement issued by the Cuban Health Ministry, the patients afflicted by the Chikugunya virus have been provided proper treatment and are progressing well. Authorities add that almost all of the patients affected by the Chikungunya virus in Cuba were linked to some kind of illegal trade. These is Cuba’s definition of people who travel abroad, bring foreign goods and sell them illegally in Cuba. The notice issued by the health ministry adds that they would take measured to “strengthen surveillance and control measures of travelers arriving from countries at risk of the disease, mainly in the Caribbean.”

Chikungunya viruses produce symptoms that are similar to dengue. These include high fever, joint pain and skin rashes. In fact, it is also caused by the same kind of mosquitoes that spread Dengue – Aedes aegypiti and Aedes albopictus. The epidemic caused by the Chikungunya virus started off in December when the first case of the disease was detected in the island of St.Martin. By March, over 8,000 confirmed cases were reported from the region. More recently, the Chikungunya virus had managed to reach Central America, in El Salvador.

Needless to say, there is concern about the possibility of the Chikungunya virus entering the U.S. if the epidemic continues to spread at the pace it currently is at. Chikungunya virus was first detected back in 1952 – and mainly affected African countries – and more recently in southern Asia. There is no vaccine or treatment for the condition.

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]