The number of new chikungunya infections in the Caribbean region grew at a brisk pace last week, with most of the activity centered in the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti, as travel to those destinations continues to be linked to a number of imported cases in other countries.
The outbreak total climbed to 306,837 suspected and confirmed cases, an increase of 42,393 from the previous week, according to a Jul 3 update from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Nearly 30,000 of the new infections were reported in the Dominican Republic, while about 12,000 of them were reported in Haiti. The two countries make up the island of Hispaniola.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today in its weekly communicable disease threat update that most of the affected areas continue to report more cases, but the situation is especially severe on Hispaniola.
New cases in Central America
In Central America, health officials in El Salvador reported 212 more suspected or confirmed cases, boosting its total so far to 1,520, according to PAHO.
Elsewhere, El Salvador remains under a national emergency with thousands of suspected cases, PAHO said. It added that the outbreak is still expanding, having reached Central and South America. Over the past several weeks, three South American countries have reported local chikungunya cases: Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
So far it's unclear if a confirmed case in Costa Rica is local or imported, and health officials in Venezuela aren't sure if all 12 chikungunya cases detected there are imported, the ECDC said. Guatemala is investigating a possible case, the agency added.
According to PAHO's update, the number of deaths in the outbreak held steady at 21.
Travel-linked cases rise steadily
Two US territories were among the areas reporting new locally acquired cases. Puerto Rico reported 89 more suspected or confirmed chikungunya cases, lifting its total to 228. The US Virgin Islands reported 3 more confirmed cases, edging its total to 7.
Countries in the PAHO region reported 51 more imported chikungunya infections, raising the total so far to 162. Most of the cases were from areas that have already reported the disease in travelers. The exception is the Cayman Islands, which reported its first travel-linked illness.
Most of the imported cases continue to be reported from the United States, which has 114 chikungunya infections.
Meanwhile, the ECDC said several other countries have recently reported chikungunya infections in people with a travel history to the outbreak areas. For example, it said that Greece on Jul 3 reported a case in a patient who was hospitalized in Athens after returning from a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Jul 3 PAHO update
Jul 7 ECDC weekly communicable disease threat report
Jun 30 CIDRAP News story "Haiti, Dominican Republic cases push chikungunya total past 260,000"