MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Heading to the Caribbean or Latin America on vacation?
The CDC says the Chikungunya outbreak in the region shows no sign of slowing down, and if you are not careful, you could come home with symptoms.
While it is highly unlikely Chikunguya will kill you, it can sideline you for at least a week with fever, rash, and debilitating joint pain.
The mosquito-borne disease is rampant now in parts of the Caribbean in Latin America with large numbers of cases reported in Puerto Rico.
Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, the medical director at Broward Health Hospital System said travelers must be extra careful not to get bitten by mosquitoes.
“We’ve seen patients from Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands, and from Haiti. It’s endemic and a big problem right now,” Dr. Sanadi said.
Puerto Rico’s Health Department released figures from last month showing 401 confirmed cases of Chikungunya and 2006 suspected cases on the island.
For the year, Puerto Rico reports 3,242 confirmed cases. “It’s something to be aware of, especially for those who are traveling to the island,” said Dr. El Sanadi.
If you get bitten while away and infected, there’s a chance you could return home to South Florida sick.
So far in 2014, the CDC says more than 1600 travelers have. “If you get bitten by a mosquito, pay attention to the symptoms and seek treatment if you develop symptoms,” said Dr. El Sanadi.
Chikungunya symptoms include fever, headaches, and severe joint pain.
Health Officials say the pain from Chikungunya in your joints can sideline you for up to a week. Right now, the CDC said there is no vaccine or specific treatment for it.
In South Florida, there have been less than a half dozen cases in the last year, nothing like what’s being seen in Puerto Rico.
If you do contract Chikungunya, there is good news. You will probably never get it again.
Doctors said it’s thought one unpleasant experience with it is enough to provide lifelong immunity.
Click here to view map of Chikungunya in the Americas.
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