An outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean region was reported from the French part of the island of Saint Martin on 5 December 2013. It is the first time that autochthonous transmission of the virus has been documented in the Americas. An ECDC risk assessment of the outbreak published on 12 December concluded that the risk of the disease spreading to other islands in the region was high. Since then, new chikungunya cases have been reported from several islands in the Caribbean.
As of 9 January 2014, the following number of cases has been reported:
- 201 probable or confirmed cases in Saint Martin (FR);
- 2 confirmed cases in Saint Martin (NL);
- 48 probable or confirmed cases in Martinique;
- 25 probable or confirmed cases in Saint Barthélemy;
- 10 probable or confirmed cases including one imported case from Saint Martin in Guadeloupe;
- 1 confirmed case imported from Martinique in French Guiana.
Chikungunya transmission was detected during an ongoing dengue outbreak in the Caribbean. Dengue and chikungunya viruses are transmitted by the same Aedes aegypti
mosquito species. The naïve population, the presence of an effective vector in the region and the movement of people in and between islands are factors that make it likely the outbreak will continue to spread geographically and increase in numbers. Since the dengue outbreak is ongoing, clinicians and travel medicine clinics should remain vigilant regarding imported dengue and chikungunya cases from the Caribbean.