The Associated Press reported on Saturday that an African disease called chikungunya has ravaged Latin America and the Caribbean this past summer, affecting over one million individuals. The disease is transmitted through a specific type of sun-resistant mosquito, the aedes aegypti. According to the Pan American Health Organization, chikungunya has spread to at least two dozen countries and territories across the Western Hemisphere since the first case was registered in French St. Martin in late 2013.
Chikungunya is transmitted via aedes aegypti mosquitos, which are sun-resistent and prevalent in Latin America as well as the Caribbean.
Those infected with chikungunya experience severe pain in the joints, worse than arthritis, which causes them to contort with discomfort. In fact, the name chikungunya is derived from an African phrase which loosely translates to “contorted with pain.” Sufferers experience pain so excruciating that many cannot even walk. “The pain is unbelievable,” said Catalino Castillo, a 39-year-old seeking treatment for his bout with chikungunya. “It’s been 10 days and it won’t let up.” A high fever and headache are also symptoms.
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With over one million individuals affected with chikungunya in South America, there have also been a few cases reported in Florida. Experts say that it is unlikely for the disease to spread to the United States to the degree which it has rocked Latin America, as the aedes aegypti mosquito is not indigenous to North America.
A Panama Health Ministry worker fumigates around abandoned cars as part of a prevention program.
Chikungunya rarely claims any lives, though it is unbearably painful for those afflicted. Are you worried that the disease may spread to the United States? Tell us in the comments section.