By Marion V. Ali, Staff Reporter
Cuba has confirmed its first six cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus, making that country the latest Caribbean nation to confirm cases of the virus. According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) there had been 4,600 confirmed and 166,000 suspected cases in the Caribbean as of mid-June.
According to the Cuban health ministry, people with the virus had recently travelled to Haiti or the Dominican Republic where thousands of people have reported suffering from the severe headaches, high fever and intense joint pain symptomatic for the virus.
Officials said they would strengthen surveillance and control measures of travellers arriving from countries mainly in the Caribbean. The virus is also spreading quickly in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and there have been confirmed cases in most of the Caribbean island states.
The virus has long been present in Africa and Asia but it was only detected in the Caribbean in December. On Wednesday, El Salvador put seven municipalities on alert after its first cases were confirmed.
There is currently no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya. Symptoms include the sudden onset of fever and joint pain, particularly affecting the hands, wrists, ankles and feet. Most patients recover after a few days but in some cases the joint pain may persist for weeks, months or even longer