Back in January we told you about a new mosquito-borne illness in the Caribbean, and while we haven’t heard reports of any yacht racers being stricken by Chikunguya this winter, we expect next year to be a different story for the Dengue-like disease. The latest report from the Associated Press says that there are “currently more than 4,000 confirmed cases of the fast-spreading chikungunya virus in the Caribbean, most of them in the French Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Martin. Another 31,000 suspected cases have been reported across the region of scattered islands.” From 3 cases in December to up to 35,000 in May…and that all happened during the dry season.
The good news is that, like Dengue, Chikunguya is rarely fatal and generally only knocks you down for a week. But like Dengue (and Malaria), even if you get off quickly, victims may suffer lasting pain and other effects for months or years. International health authorities are doing what they can to stave off an epidemic, but as anyone who has spent any time in the tropics knows, it’s impossible to ‘wipe out’ mosquito diseases, so this one is here to stay, at least at some level.
So wear your long shirts and pants and hose yourself down with the DEET next time you’re down in the Islands (especially the French ones), and be thankful there’s no malaria!