Over a year has passed since chikungunya swept across the Caribbean, and millions have contracted the mosquito borne illness. While most recovered after a miserable ten days, some patients continue to suffer joint pain. For a number of patients, the ongoing pain is nearly crippling.
Microbiologist and science writer Jason Tetro had this to say in a recent Twitter chat “… no clinical is the norm for most ‘infections’. The immune system rids the invader before onset of symptoms.” Jason was referring to the way that the human immune system, and the associated genetics, are more than capable of handling the thousands of exposures to germs that each of us has in a day.
This Memorial Day, it is important to remember that the young men and women that we send around the world in our military give their lives to save others as well as in war. Cpl. Sara A. Medina, a combat photographer assigned to Marine Corps Installations Pacific, died in the line of duty on May 12 in Nepal. Medina was aboard a Marine helicopter moving supplies to areas hard hit by two massive earthquakes, including one that was 7.4 magnitude on that same day.
The Centers for Disease Control have estimated that for every case of WWND, between 150 and 250 cases of the less severe illness are contracted. That would mean between 84,000 and 140,000 Californians caught the mosquito-transmitted illness in 2014. Fortunately, 80 percent of those infected with the West Nile virus will experience extremely minor symptoms or none at all.
Public health officials had been expecting the arrival of chikungunya in the Western Hemisphere for some time so they were not surprised when cases began appearing in Dec. 2013 on the French side of the island of St. Martin. As of April 17, 2015, chikungunya had been confirmed with autochthonous (local) transmission in virtually every country and territory in North and South America. Bermuda, Canada, Chile, Cuba and Peru deny any locally contracted illnesses.