January 14, 2014 5:54 pm

Chikungunya virus spreads in Caribbean after breaking out in St. Martin

A mosquito-borne virus appears to be spreading quickly in the Caribbean just weeks after epidemiologists first found local transmission occurring in St. Martin.

CDC, University of Notre Dame, James Gathany

KINGSTON, Jamaica – A mosquito-borne virus appears to be spreading quickly in the Caribbean just weeks after epidemiologists first found local transmission occurring in St. Martin.

St. Martin now has as many as 200 cases of chikungunya, a virus found mainly in Africa and Asia that can cause a debilitating sickness with fever, rash and intense muscle and joint pain.

READ MORE: Canadian travellers to St. Martin, Martinique warned about chikungunya virus

The virus then spread to neighbouring Dutch St. Maarten, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says new cases have also been confirmed in the French Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Barthelemy. The British Virgin Islands reported three cases Monday.

CDC epidemiologist Erin Staples said Tuesday that “further spread to other Caribbean islands and to the surrounding mainland areas is possible in the coming months and years.”

© The Associated Press, 2014

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