KINGSTON, JAMAICA — A nasty mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading rapidly in the Caribbean has made its way to the U.S. Virgin Islands, authorities said Wednesday.
Health officials in the U.S. Caribbean territory said they confirmed the islands' first locally transmitted case of chikungunya. They did not disclose any information about the patient. A second patient in the three-island territory was infected elsewhere.
From the island of St. Croix, Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett said local authorities were working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to "raise awareness and prevent the spread of the virus."
Concern about the advancing virus is growing in the United States. The two species of mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found in the southern and eastern U.S. and some epidemiologists believe the first local transmissions could occur this summer, given the large number of American travelers to the Caribbean.
Chikungunya's symptoms include a burning fever, headaches and a debilitating pain in joints. There is no vaccine for the virus, which is rarely fatal.
Many Americans think global warming is a distant risk that threatens faraway places with ice caps and polar bears. Very few Americans link global warming to infectious disease, but that could change.
As the climate of the northern United States warms, the Asian tiger mosquito, one of the world's most invasive pests, continues spreading northward from Texas to New York, while extending its breeding season. These changes are happening just when chikungunya, an infectious disease carried by this and other mosquitoes, is rapidly spreading throughout the Caribbean. Pieces are falling into place for a historic epidemic on U.S. shores.
Editor's note: Durland Fish is professor of epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at
Yale School of Public Health, and director of the Yale Institute of Biospheric Studies Center for EcoEpidemiology. Anthony Leiserowitz is a research scientist and director of the Yale Project on Climate Change at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Mark Pagani is a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and director of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.
A team of French and Brazilian researchers warns that chikungunya virus is poised to invade, and become epidemic in the Americas according to research published ahead of print in the Journal of Virology.
The risk of a "catastrophic" epidemic in the Americas is boosted by the FIFA World Cup, to be held in Brazil next month, what with people coming in from near and from far, says corresponding author Ricardo Lourenco-de-Oliveira of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Brazil annually reports the highest incidence of dengue, a virus that is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the same mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya, he says.
The basis of his worries is the study, in which he and his collaborators compared the ability of 35 populations of the two Aedes species to transmit three different genotypes of chikungunya. These populations ranged all over the Americas from Buenos Aires to Tyson, Missouri (near St. Louis.) Even in temperate Missouri, A. albopictus was found to have a high dissemination and transmission ability for two of the three chikungunya genotypes.
Chikungunya can cause severe joint pain, which can sometimes lead to permanent disability, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality has been known to reach 1/1000. The virus' name reflects the condition of many of the stricken, "bent down or become contorted," in the Tanzanian Makonda language.
Transmission of chikungunya was first reported in the Americas in December of last year, on the Caribbean island of St. Martin. By February 5th, the disease had spread to nine additional Caribbean countries. "The danger of chikungunya virus spreading all over the tropical, subtropical, and even temperate regions of the Americas is a risk greater than ever," says Lourenco-de-Oliveira. "Our results showed that the [Americas are] very receptive and vulnerable to CHIKV [chikungunya virus] transmission, and extremely exposed to the occurrence of an immediate chikungunya epidemic, since most regions are highly infested with both vectors."
The final version of the article is scheduled for the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Virology.
Source: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
A VIRAL disease spread by mosquitoes has reached the Americas for the first time, infecting a dozen people on the Caribbean island of St Martin.
Chikungunya is rarely lethal but can cause chronic joint pain. Eight years ago it spread beyond Africa, where it originated, to Asia, making millions of people ill.
On 10 December, the World Health Organization announced two confirmed cases of chikungunya in the French half of St Martin, with 10 more suspected.
More cases – on the Dutch half of the island, for example – may remain undetected, says a risk assessment report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, Sweden. French St Martin may simply have spotted chikungunya first because it is a familiar adversary: the virus's first appearance outside Africa, in 2005, was on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, also a French territory.
The ease with which people travel will make it difficult to break the transmission of chikungunya, warns Hervé Zeller, head of emerging diseases at ECDC. The virus can spread if an infected person flies into a new area and is bitten by Aedes mosquitoes. This is what would have happened in St Martin, where Aedes aegypti was probably involved.
Tiger mosquitoes (A. albopictus) can also carry the virus and could spread it well beyond the tropics. These mosquitoes can survive cold winters and are established in Australia, Europe and as far north as Connecticut in the US, says Ilia Rochlin, an entomologist in Long Island, New York.
Insecticide spraying could snuff out the outbreak in St Martin. But control of insect-borne viruses in the Americas has not been that successful. West Nile virus invaded in 1999 and is now endemic, and tiger mosquitoes recently spread dengue fever to a man in New York.
This article appeared in print under the headline "Chikungunya virus arrives in the Americas"
Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken announced Nov. 20 that his department had confirmed a case of locally acquired dengue in his county. The patient, a 50-year-old man, was hospitalized with dengue symptoms in Sept. and has now recovered. This is believed to be the first locally acquired dengue illness in New York State. He had no history of travel outside the region.
The dengue virus is carried by mosquitoes. It is believed that the patient was bitten by an Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus. This species was first discovered in the continental United States in 1985, in Texas, and has been spreading northward since that time. In 2010, a Cornell mosquito expert predicted that the first dengue case in New York could originate with the Asian Tiger mosquito.
The Asian Tiger mosquito is not believed to be able to overwinter, or hibernate, in areas that reach freezing on average for the month of January. That would include Suffolk County. Any influx of Aedes albopictus on Long Island would be seasonal, and the dengue patient's onset of symptoms clearly points to a summer mosquito bite. This species of mosquito is also a carrier for West Nile and Yellow Fever.
The Aedes albopictus gets its nick-name, the Asian tiger mosquito because of the black-and-white stripes on its body. It was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires according to the Wall Street Journal. On Wednesday, media outlets warned about the pests invading the east coast. The WSJ reports unlike other mosquitoes, the aggressive Asian tiger bites all day long, from morning until night. Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, tells the WSJ, "Part of the reason it is called 'tiger' is also because it is very aggressive. You can try and swat it all you want, but once it's on you, it doesn't let go."
Asian mosquitoes are as ferocious as their namesakes, tigers - and they're the latest disease-carrying pest to invade the United States in droves. The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires (in the rain water that collects inside the rims) in the 1980s. They have black-and-white stripes on their bodies. They have currently invaded twenty eastern states in America, and at the rate they're advancing, they will soon come to yours...According to Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, "Part of the reason it is called 'tiger' is also because it is very aggressive. You can try and swat it all you want, but once it's on you, it doesn't let go."
Jennifer Gruener, superintendent of Warren County's Mosquito Control Commission, said the area's nine inches of rainfall since May does not bode well for mosquito containment. "It's going to get worse because of the rain we've had that produced river overflow, pool filling and a lot of freshwater," she said...John Worobey, a Rutgers University professor of Nutritional Sciences, and Dina Fonseca and Randy Gaugler, with the school's Center for Vector Biology experts from 2009 to 2011, linked the presence of Asian tiger mosquitoes as a contributing factor to childhood obesity. The study, which compared outdoor activity of a mosquito-controlled area with a noncontrolled area, found that children exposed to the day-biting mosquito spent 63 percent less time outside playing.
There's a new pest in town and it is about as menacing as it sounds: the Asian tiger mosquito. Named for the black-and-white stripes on its body, the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was first brought to Texas in a shipment of tires (which are notorious for holding the standing water that mosquitoes require for breeding), the Wall Street Journal reports. The bug is worrisome for several reasons: Unlike other mosquitoes, the aggressive Asian tiger bites all day long, from morning until night. It has a real bloodlust for humans, but also attacks dogs, cats, birds and other animals."Part of the reason it is called 'tiger' is also because it is very aggressive, Dina Fonseca, associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University, told the Journal. "You can try and swat it all you want, but once it's on you, it doesn't let go."
The latest scourge crossing the country has a taste for the big city.
The Asian tiger mosquito, named for its distinctive black-and-white striped body, is a relatively new species to the U.S. that is more vicious, harder to kill and, unlike most native mosquitoes, bites during the daytime. It also prefers large cities over rural or marshy areas—thus earning the nickname among entomologists as "the urban mosquito."
"Part of the reason it is called 'tiger' is also because it is very aggressive," says Dina Fonseca, an associate professor of entomology at Rutgers University. "You can try and swat it all you want, but once it's on you, it doesn't let go. Even if it goes away, it will be back for a bite."