The number of suspected and confirmed locally acquired chikungunya cases have topped the 20,000 mark of the epidemiological week 45(EW-45) ending Nov. 11, according to the latest data from the Departamento de Salud de Puerto Rico (Department of Health) published Dec. 3.

Aedes aegypti/CDC
Aedes aegypti/CDC

According to Puerto Rican health officials, 20,770 cases have been reported to the end of EW-45. This number includes both cases diagnosed clinically and those confirmed via laboratory testing.

In addition to the cases transmitted via local transmission, 31 imported cases have also been reported.

Puerto Rico has seen five fatalities linked to the mosquito borne virus.

Since local transmission of chikungunya was first reported in the Western hemisphere in December 2013, there has been nearly 915,000 cases seen throughout the Americas, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

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.

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