Health officials in the Marshall Islands are reporting a surge in chikungunya cases with the latest tally at more than 800 cases since February 2015. Of these, 80 percent of cases were from the Capital, Majuro. The other cases were from outer islands (Ebeye, Aur and Maloelap).
This is the first known outbreak of Chikungunya in the Marshall Islands and follows on the heels of a major outbreak in Kiribati earlier this year. In addition to the Marshall Islands, the Cook Islands, Samoa and American Samoa.
One month ago, a multi-agency effort was launched by the Marshall Islands government to reduce the rates of chikungunya in the country. The effort, involving the health ministry, public works and utility companies, involved spraying mosquito breeding areas around Majuro Atoll.
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.