The mosquito borne virus, chikungunya has hit Central America pretty hard in recent months with a total of 170,000 suspected and confirmed autochthonous cases reported on the isthmus since local transmission was first seen in the Americas 13 months ago, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Jan. 16.
El Salvador accounts for the majority of locally acquired cases in the region with 135,000; however, other countries are starting to feel chikungunya’s sting.
Honduras health officials report being concerned of a chikungunya epidemic in the country, according to a Telesur TV report.
Health officials have reported 50 cases to date in 2015, compared to 18 during the previous 4 months, the report states.
Currently, in the capital of Tegucigalpa there is an average of 5 cases daily of chikungunya. San Pedro Sula sees up to 7 or 8 a day. The patients usually come from the poor neighborhoods where there are no sewers or water services.
South of Honduras in Costa Rica, health authorities are now reporting more than 100 cases with 70 cases classified as locally acquired, according to a Youth Health report.
Dr. Roberto Castro, Health Ministry Surveillance United Director, reported that majority of the cases were from the north and central Pacific regions specifically among the Guanacaste residents of Abangares and Carrillo. Nearly seven out of 10 cases have been reported in women.
In fact, health officials say housewives are most likely to be infected with chikungunya virus.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache. Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.