Only one patient hospitalized since December – More than one hundred cases of chikungunya

POSTED: 03/11/14 12:35 AM

GREAT BAY – Sint Maarten has registered 115 confirmed cases of infection with the chikungunya-virus from the moment the first case was confirmed on December 6 of last year up to February 20. This appears from the surveillance of chikungunya published by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment RIVM. Only one of the 115 patients had to be hospitalized.

The rise of the chikungunya-virus has led to widespread actions by governments on both sides of the island. It has also caused unrest in prime source markets for the tourism industry, like the United States and Canada. But the data do not seem to justify the panic. With one hospitalization and, fortunately, no cases with a deadly ending, St. Maarten remains a safe place to visit.

By comparison, Mexico looks like a riskier destination. The Pan American Health Organization Paho reported that in week 52 of last year, the country reported 18,667 cases of severe dengue, and 104 cases whereby the patients succumbed to the fever.

In St. Maarten, the median age of the chikungunya patients was 44, almost evenly divided over men and women. The RICM notes in its report that information about the date of onset and about the place of residence on the island of the patients “has improved somewhat but is still lacking.” According to the institute this poses a challenge, because the information is important for follow up on the reported cases.

The spread of the virus is irregular over the first seven weeks, though there is a significant increase in confirmed cases in week 7 – the week up to February 20 – with more than forty cases. In week 4, there were close to 30 cases, the week after that around 25 and in week 6 hardly any. One of the characteristics for the confirmed cases is a fever higher than 38.5 degrees Celsius.

The public health office in Aruba mentioned one imported case of chikungunya from a patient who had spent one week in Saint Martin in mid-January. So far Bonaire, Statia, Saba and Curacao have not reported any confirmed cases

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