According to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the death toll from the mosquito borne disease, chikungunya, now stands at 32 in the Caribbean.
Chikungunya disease rarely results in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most people who get sick feel better within a week. In some people, however, the joint pain may last for months or years, according to NewsAmericasNow.com.
The six new deaths were all reported in the French Caribbean island of Martinique, where the number of deaths from the disease now stands at 19.
An outbreak of the chikungunya virus infection has been ongoing in the Caribbean since December 2013 and has now spread to North, Central and South America.
Compared to last week, the number of reported cases of chikungunya infections has risen by eight percent in the Caribbean nations of Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Martin/St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Center for Disease Control.
There are now more than 510,000 probable and confirmed cases in the region. According to NewsAmericasNow.com, the Dominican Republic accounts for the highest increase, with more then 26,000 new cases reported.
The CDC recommends that travelers to the Caribbean protect themselves from mosquito bites. People who have arthritis, are older than 65, pregnant and have serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes) are most at risk to the disease.
The chikungunya virus is also continuing to spread throughout the United States with recent news that 25 New Jersey residents have tested positive for the virus following a Caribbean vacation.
According to 7online.com, New Jersey's Bergen County reported the most cases with six, while Hudson and Passaic had three each. Nationwide, the total number of travel-related cases has risen to 398, up 33 percent from last week.
Stltoday.com recently reported that a 38-year-old St. Louis County woman was infected with the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya while traveling in the Caribbean.
U.S. travelers contracted the virus in tropical destinations including Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Tonga and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 250 people have contracted the virus in Puerto Rico, where health officials have declared an epidemic.
Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, the health department says. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks, however, some people may develop long-term effects.
According to 7online.com, complications are more common in infants younger than a year old; those older than 65; and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. The only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing bites can be difficult, but it is important as you can get sick after just one bite.
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