African Mosquito-borne Virus Arriving in Western Hemisphere
Chikungunya virus, an arthropod-borne virus thought to have originated in Central/East Africa with first known human infections reported in Tanzania in 1955, has re-emerged with newly documented cases in the Caribbean and the United States raising concerns of among health officials for a new epidemic. The virus is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Though cases have been documented in countries in Asia and Africa and even Italy in 2007, the previously “tropical” disease is surprising health officials with its capacity for global spread. Also adding to official concerns: the newly reported cases in the Caribbean mark the first instance that the disease has been spread by locally infected mosquitoes among people who have not travelled to endemic areas recently.