The number of chikungunya cases in the Americas increased by more than 32,000 autochthonous during the past week with the vast majority of the news cases being reported from two countries.

Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC
Aedes aegypti mosquito feeding on a human host/CDC

Colombia, which has been reporting a steady increase for months rose by nearly 13,000 cases in the past week, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). This brings Colombia’s total to 232,920 suspected and confirmed locally acquired chikungunya cases since June 2014.

Last week in Central America, Honduras saw a steep rise in cases. This week, the burst of cases was reported from their neighbors to the south, Nicaragua. Nicaragua saw a surge of more than 19,000 cases since last week, going from 4645 suspected and confirmed cases to 23697 total autochthonous cases, easily the largest increase reported in the Western Hemisphere.

Mexico reported an additional 53 confirmed cases bringing that total to 458.

One month ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their travel notice for chikungunya in South America, while last week the federal health agency updated the notice for Mexico where the following states have been hit hardest: Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.

The total confirmed and suspected chikungunya cases in the Americas is now 1,339,835 locally transmitted cases since Dec. 2013.

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.