A Closer Look: Chikungunya Concerns in the Caribbean

July 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

Traffic sign warning of mosquitoes ahead
It makes us itch just thinking about it. But there’s no denying that Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that cropped up in the Caribbean last December, has blossomed from a few isolated incidents into a serious concern among the islands – and cruisers.
In the St. Martin/St. Maarten forum, liltellurr asks, “Are there areas to avoid, certain things I shouldn’t be doing, etc? I nearly get eaten alive whenever they (mosquitoes) are around, so I’m trying to be careful.” Member KBRADFORD79 reported having symptoms similar to Chikungunya after a Western Caribbean cruise on Allure of the Seas.
In response, Cruise Critic has put together a Chikungunya FAQ about the illness, how it spreads and what you can do to treat it, as well as prevention tips. There is currently no cure or vaccine; however, most people who come down with Chikungunya feel better within a week.
Our staffers have noticed warnings for the virus on recent trips to affected islands. On a land trip to Martinique in late May, Ports Editor Ashley Koscielek noticed large signs warning of Chikungunya as soon as she stepped off the plane. Further, two journalists in her group came down with the illness and were in bed for a couple of days with flulike symptoms that included fevers and sore muscles.
And in Grand Turk last week, Cruise Critic Editorial Assistant Brittany Chrusciel overheard several public service announcement about Chikungunya broadcast on a local radio station. The segments stressed preventative measures that the island residents should take, such as wearing insect repellent, and to be aware of the illness’ symptoms.
Back on Carnival Freedom, Chrusciel checked the CDC website and discovered the virus was also in her next port stop, La Romana in the Dominican Republic (Carnival had a health safety message on the FunTimes for both ports, warning people to protect against mosquitoes, although Chikungunya was not mentioned by name). “We had a serious session of bathing in bug spray as a precaution.”
Our best advice? Keep up to date with the Travelers Health section of the Centers for Disease Control, and follow their guidelines for mosquito protection, if you’re traveling to an affected area. This will help you keep abreast of warnings for chikungunya, as well as other mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue, malaria and Yellow Fever. And if you do suffer symptoms, be sure to visit a doctor immediately for testing.

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