PAHO warns of heightened chikungunya, dengue threats

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) yesterday urged its member countries that have mosquitoes that transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses to step up their vector control programs in advance of a possible increase in infections.

The recommendation from PAHO, the World Health Organization's office in the region, comes in advance of the peak transmission season for dengue and in the wake of local chikungunya transmission in a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Since the start of the year countries in the PAHO region have reported almost 850,000 dengue infections, including 470 deaths, PAHO said in a press release. As of Sep 5, the area has reported more than 650,000 chikungunya cases, 37 of them fatal.

Both diseases are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, present in most countries in the Americas.

The group said dengue prevention strategies can be applied to chikungunya, and it recommends beefing up efforts in six ways: patient care, social communication, surveillance, lab capacity, mosquito control, and environmental control.

Chikungunya in Colombia

In a related development, Colombia's health ministry yesterday announced the detection of its first four locally acquired chikungunya infections, according to a machine translated statement.

Alejandro Gaviria Uribe, deputy health minister, said the disease is probably already occurring in cities in Bolivar department, located in the northern part of the country.

Imported US cases top 900

Meanwhile, brisk disease activity in outbreak hot spots is still contributing to a steady increase in travel-linked cases in the United States, which have now reached 926, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said yesterday in its latest update.

The number is 230 more than reported on Aug 26, and 43 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed cases. All but 13 of the chikungunya cases imported into the US were in travelers returning from outbreak areas in the Americas.

In addition, 8 locally acquired cases have now been reported in Florida, 2 more than the number that the CDC reported on Aug 26. Florida is the only US state that has reported locally acquired cases.

Two US territories—Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands—have reported both types of cases. So far Puerto Rico has reported 234 cases, 17 of them imported, and the US Virgin Islands has reported 29 cases, of which 4 were imported.

See also:

Sep 10 PAHO press release

Sep 10 Colombian health ministry statement

Sep 10 CDC chikungunya update

Sep 8 CIDRAP News item "Chikungunya case numbers increase by another thousand"

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