As the number of reported chikungunya cases to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) appears to be slowing, only increasing by 4,481 cases during the past week- two countries accounted for 95 percent of the newly reported cases- Colombia and Puerto Rico.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

Colombia jumped from 16,960 cases the week ending Oct. 24 to 19,703 cases last Friday, according to the latest PAHO data, while Puerto Rico saw an increase of 1,534 new autochthonous cases rising from 16,198 to 17,732 suspected and confirmed cases.

Since the chikungunya virus was first detected as a locally acquired infection in the Western hemisphere 11 months ago, the total number of cases has reached 793,563 in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Chikungunya is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Two important vectors are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which also transmit dengue virus.

According to the World Health Organization, the name “chikungunya” derives from a Kimakonde word meaning “to become contorted” and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain.

Chikungunya is an acute febrile illness with sudden onset of fever and joint pains, particularly affecting the hands, wrists, ankles and feet. Most patients recover after a few days but in some cases the joint pains may persist for weeks, months or even longer. Other common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, headache, rash and leukopenia.