A mosquito-borne virus that can cause debilitating joint pain lasting for years has spread to the continental U.S. after infecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean and Central America.
The virus is called Chikungunya, an African name meaning “to become contorted.” While the illness, first identified in Tanzania in 1952, has long bedeviled Africa and Asia, the only recorded cases in the U.S. before July involved patients who contracted the virus abroad.
Now, 11 cases have been confirmed as originating in Florida, spurring concern this may be the beginning of the type of explosive growth seen elsewhere from a disease that has no vaccine or cure. Medical and environmental experts are debating how best to quell the outbreak before it takes off…
Patients who contract Chikungunya have joint swelling and pain, fever, headache and rash for about a week, though some symptoms last months or years in some patients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While the disease generally isn’t fatal, more than 100 people have died in the Western Hemisphere since December, according to the Pan American Health Organization…
Now that Chikungunya is in Florida, it could infect 10,000 people in that state alone, according to Walter Tabachnick, the director of the Florida Medical Entymology Laboratory, who said his estimate is based on the exponential growth of other outbreaks. More than 700,000 people, for instance, are suspected of being infected with the virus in South America, Central America and the Caribbean since it appeared there, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
RTFA for all the delightful details.
Just like the Ebola “outbreak” – which means a few medical missionaries returning home plus another patient obviously infected in Africe – Americans only pay attention to headline health news.
The actual danger from Chikungunya is immediate – though it may not impact widely till next year’s mosquito season. And it will be an enormous surprise to the Talking Heads on network TV and White House responders.