The number of autochthonous, or locally acquired chikungunya cases have reached a new milestone this past week, eclipsing the 7,000 mark (7,007), prompting US health authorities to reissue their travel notice for the country south of the border.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says local transmission means that mosquitoes in Mexico have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people.

CDC recommends that travelers to Mexico protect themselves from chikungunya by preventing mosquito bites. Some travelers may be more likely to get chikungunya, have severe disease, or be at higher risk for other reasons. CDC advises travelers in high-risk groups to discuss their travel plans with their health care provider. These groups include the following: People who have arthritis, people with serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes), people older than 65, women who are late in their pregnancies, because of the risk to babies born at the time their mother is sick, long-term travelers, including missionaries and humanitarian aid workers and people visiting friends and relatives and people who might have difficulty avoiding mosquito bites, such as those planning to spend a lot of time outdoors or staying in rooms without window screens or air conditioning.

In the US, 467 imported chikungunya cases have been reported. No local transmission of the virus has been recorded in 2015.

The countries south of Mexico in Central America account for 162,249 chikungunya cases, or nearly one-third of chikungunya reported in the Western hemisphere in 2015.

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

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