As of 19 December 2013, the local health authorities of the French Caribbean Islands reported 26 confirmed and 12 probable autochthonous cases of chikungunya on the island of Saint Martin. Three foci are identified on the Island namely Oyster Pound, Sandy Ground and quartier d’Orleans but new foci seem to be emerging. Additional three cases were detected on the Dutch part of the Island, two cases of chikungunya have been confirmed in the island Martinique, according to media quoting regional health authorities, and in Guyane a case imported from Martinique was detected.
This is the first documented autochthonous transmission of chikungunya virus in the Americas. The cluster of suspected cases was detected during an on-going dengue outbreak on the island Saint Martin.
These new developments strengthen the evidence supporting the conclusion and recommendations of the ECDC risk assessment published on 12 December
, stating that the risk of spread of the disease to other islands in the Caribbean region is high. Due to the increased travel during the Christmas holidays, vigilance must be maintained regarding imported cases of chikungunya in the EU, including awareness among clinicians and travel clinics and blood safety authorities.