British visitors to the Caribbean warned about spread of Chikungunya virus

chikungunya-fever-740LONDON, United Kingdom, Monday March 22, 2015, CMC – Britain has warned travelers 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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