Chikungunya Fever in the Caribbean – October 2014

WORLD HEALTH ALERT –  23/10/14: Chikungunya Fever in the Caribbean and World Wide Ebola Update.

Chikungunya – Caribbean- Latin America

The Chikungunya Fever epidemic has mushroomed into a full-blown crisis through Latin America, and the Caribbean, with thousands of new cases appearing every day.  The estimate is that at least 500,000 people in the region have already been infected, and since the disease did not exist in the region prior to it was first detected in 2013, the entire population of the Caribbean and Latin America are susceptible to it.  Put another way, there is no record of antibodies to Chikungunya, therefore, no natural resistance.

As one of the prime winter holiday destinations, the Caribbean region alone is visited by millions (more than 9 million yearly just from the U.S.), and just under 1 million from the U.K.  Visitors who do not take precautions and get bitten, will then become potential carriers of the virus, which remains in the bloodstream. The Chikungunya virus is spreading at an unprecedented rate, partly due to transit cases, and preventing bites is now more crucial than ever.

If you have plans to visit any Caribbean Island this fall or winter season, we strongly advise you to take all precautions against being bitten by: Applying a strong insect repellent, such as DEET, to all exposed skin, and repeat after swimming; wearing long sleeves, pants, and a hat whenever possible, and using a mosquito net treated with insecticide if your bedroom does not have air conditioning.  It is also important to remember that the Aedes mosquito bites both indoors and outdoors.

Chikungunya – Montpellier, France

4 people have been diagnosed with Chikungunya Fever in the Languedoc-Roussillon city of Montpellier, and it has been confirmed that these are not transit cases, but rather infections from indigenous mosquitoes.  This is the first report of the virus appearing in France, although, recently, there have been several cases of Dengue Fever recorded in the southern Rhône Valley region. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries both the Dengue Fever and Chikungunya virus, and we shall keep you advised of any further details.  For more information and a free consultation regarding any concerns you have about these viruses or any related issues, please contact our friendly staff at one of our convenient Travel Health Clinics in London.

Ebola – Global Update

The World Health Organisation has issued a statement today, indicating that reports of the actual death toll from Ebola in West Africa could be grossly understated, and that actual figures could as much as triple those reported. Figures now top 5,000 dead from just over 9,900 cases, however, W.H.O. fears that the true numbers might actually be close to 15,000 cases, meaning a death rate of closer to 70%. At the same time, the U.N. announces the initiation of a plan to stop the epidemic, by first, isolating at least 70% of cases, and safely burying 70% of those who die.  The U.N. seeks to carry out these measures by December 1st.

And, what do these statistics and number-counting exercises tell us? They tell us that despite all efforts to comprehend and conquer this unimaginable threat, it’s all conjecture, hope, and plans that need more backup. These statistics and daily stories about the Ebola crisis tell us that we don’t know nearly enough.

Support is coming from everywhere, and still human resources are lacking, supplies are short, and cases continue to mount.  The International Red Cross projects that the epidemic in West Africa could be over within 4 to 6 months.  The information behind that projection is not clear, but more understanding and clear thinking should go a long way towards achieving that goal.