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Medical News & Perspectives
August 27, 2014

Chikungunya Virus Transmission Found in the United States: US Health Authorities Brace for Wider Spread

JAMA. 2014;312(8):776-777. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.9916

It’s official: the chikungunya virus has arrived in the United States. Public health authorities confirmed the first 2 cases of local transmission in Florida about 6 weeks ago.

This event was not unexpected, said health authorities. In December 2013, the World Health Organization reported the first local transmission of chikungunya virus in the Western Hemisphere, in the Caribbean. Within months, the disease spread through much of the Caribbean and Central and South America. As of late July, the Pan American Health Organization was reporting the number of suspected cases had topped 400 000 and was rapidly increasing. In French Saint Martin, where the virus first began spreading, an estimated 12% of the population has been infected, according to J. Erin Staples, MD, PhD, medical epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) division of vector-borne diseases in Fort Collins, Colorado.